Internal Market Council endorses voluntary deal with car industry on pedestrian safety

The EU’s internal market ministers endorsed on Monday 26 November a voluntary agreement with the European car industry on measures to increase pedestrian safety. The European car makers committed themselves to new safety measures, such as the introduction of ABS and daytime running lights, and the withdrawal of bull bars.

The ACEA “Commitment on Pedestrian Safety” contains the following elements:

  • all ACEA members will commit to achieve a first phase of pedestrian protection standards for all new vehicles from 1 July, 2005 (with gradual phase-in: 80 per cent from 1 July, 2010; 90 per cent in 2011; and 100 per cent in 2012);
  • all new vehicles will be equipped with daytime running lights from 2002 and anti-lock brake systems (ABS) from 2003;
  • car manufacturers will no longer fit or market rigid bull bars from 1 January 2002;
  • the industry will progressively install additional active safety devices on all new motor cars. These will include electronic sensors and other features (promoted by the eEurope Action Plan);
  • the industry will comply with a more stringent set of pedestrian safety targets proposed by the European Enhanced Safety Vehicle Committee (EEVC). These rules will be phased in from 2010.

 

In July 2001, Mr. Paolo Cantarella, President ofACEA, stated: "This acceptance demonstrates that the EU Commission and the auto industry can work together on highly complex and technical issues to make significant improvements in real world safety."

TheEuropean Transport Safety Council (ETSC)criticised the outcome of the ministerial meeting. Jeanne Breen, Executive Director of the international NGO dedicated to road safety in Europe, said: "Safety professionals and organisations throughout Europe are deeply worried about this decision by the EU Council which so clearly puts industrial convenience over the safety of our most vulnerable road users. Having favoured legislation last June, this change of position on the part of the Council represents a complete cave-in to the intensive lobby of the car industry and goes against the public interest."

European Consumer organisation BEUCalso showed disappointed with the Council's decision. BEUC wants mandatory legislation on pedestrian protection. "Pedestrian safety is too important an area in which to experiment with new types of co-regulation such as voluntary agreements, particularly as it is unclear how compliance will be ensured", a BEUC press release stated.

 

In December 2000, the European Commission started negotiations with the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) with a view to reaching a self-commitment of the car industry on measures to reduce the impact of road accidents with pedestrians. It prepared a proposal for a Directive in case the industry would not come up with a satisfactory voluntary commmitment.

The Commission adopted on 11 July 2001 a Communication entitled "Pedestrian protection: Commitment by the European automobile industry". The Communication welcomed the voluntary commitment by ACEA to take safety measures to reduce the risk of injury and death in the event of collision between a pedestrian and the front of a vehicle.

 

The European Parliament is preparing its opinion on this voluntary agreement (rapporteur MEP Ms.Ewa Hedkvist Petersen, PSE, Sweden). The transport committee of the European Parliament is likely to adopt the coming report by Mrs. Hedkvist in February 2002. The EP's plenary session would then discuss it in March 2002.

 

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