SAFETY MONITOR MARCH 2000 EDITION No. 30
ACROSS THE MODES
Portuguese Minister Jorge Coelho, President of the EU Transport Council outlined the Presidency's transport priorities to Parliament's Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism Committee on 25 January 2000. Transport safety issues are high on the agenda and the Presidency hoped that the March and June Council meetings would deliver results.
Transport safety - EU applicant countries
The Accession Conference at Ministerial level of 7 December 1999 with Cyprus, Hungary, Poland, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia led to adoption of common positions (see Safety Monitor 28). Within the common positions the section on Transport Policy for the applicant countries covers the following:
At the end of March, the Special European Council of Lisbon devoted to employment, economic reform and social cohesion will consider the new Commission communication 'eEurope: An Information Society for all'. In preparation for this meeting, the Commission will produce a Progress Report, which will be placed on the eEurope website (see Safety Monitor 29).
Training of safety advisers – dangerous goods
The Council common position on the proposal designed to improve safety standards for the carriage of dangerous goods was approved at the Plenary of 18 January 2000 at second reading. The legislation lays down training standards for safety advisors and at first reading the Council had adopted several parliamentary amendments aimed at strengthening the safety provisions. (See also Safety Monitor 28).
COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
Working time – road transport
The Council and the European Parliament carried out consultations in the informal Social Affairs meeting in Lisbon in February to prepare for the forthcoming formal Conciliation Committee meeting on the organisation of working time to cover sectors and activities excluded from Directive 93/104/EC.
Parallel agreement on global technical regulations for vehicles adopted
The Council has now adopted the proposal for a Parallel agreement on global technical regulations for vehicles (See Safety Monitor 29).
EU Whole Vehicle Type Approval
At the Economic/Finance Council meeting of 28 February 2000, the Council adopted without debate decisions on the position to be taken by the EC on the following draft regulations of the UN/ECE :
-approval of motor vehicle headlamps emitting a symmetrical passing beam or a driving beam or both and equipped with filament lamps;
-approval of specific components of motor vehicles using compressed natural gas in their propulsion systems and of vehicles with regard to the installation of specific components of an approved type for the use of compressed natural gas in their propulsion systems;
-uniform provisions for the approval of certain types of tank vehicles (categories N and O) with regard to roll-over stability.
Mrs de Palacio proposes reversal to EU policy on blood alcohol limits
EU Transport Commissioner, Loyola de Palacio told the Parliament's Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism Committee on 26 January 2000 that while she hoped it would be possible to come forward with a proposal on safer car fronts for pedestrians and cyclists, setting blood alcohol limits for road safety was a matter for Member States. A Commission proposal has been on the table since 1988 and Parliament recently invited the Commission to update it.
The Commissioner's statement has astonished MEPs and road safety organisations alike. In a letter to MEPs, ETSC said that this would be a lost opportunity to save 1000 lives annually. It would be against the wish of the Portuguese Presidency which has been expressed so clearly in favour. It would run contrary to successive road safety opinions of the European Parliament. And while the Commissioner cited subsidiarity as a reason for not wanting to proceed, Directives already existed in other similar areas such as seat belt use. This was a clear case where EU action could add value to the road safety efforts of Member States.
Telematics: safety guidelines
With the aim of encouraging Member States and industry to act together to avoid telematic road transport systems presenting any risk to drivers, the Commission has taken a first step in drafting a declaration of European principles to give guidance for the safe design of new equipment. This includes on-board navigation, guidance and real time road information systems, and car-phones. To avoid such developments being harmful to safety, i.e. drivers being distracted or overloaded with information the Commission recognises, as a first step, the need to outline principles enhancing road safety.
Some Member States have already introduced provision on this. The draft declaration due to be approved by the Commission this month covers broad safety issues that should be taken into account – most of all by manufacturers – on man/machine interfaces for on-board information and communication systems. Design and installation are key considerations.
In its report last year on intelligent transport applications and road safety (see www.etsc.be), ETSC noted the limitations of this action which does not cover the all important problem of means of compliance, and recommended further EU action.
Transport of dangerous goods by road
In the Parliament's plenary of 18 January 2000 MEPs approved the Commission proposal updating a 1994 Directive on safety standards for tanks and vessels used to transport gasses and other dangerous materials in first reading. A series of amendments were adopted including those concerning the implementation of the legislation or 'comitology' (See Safety Monitors 28/29).
Interior fittings of motor vehicles
In the Parliament's plenary of 18 January 2000 second reading approval was given to the common position designed to bring EU standards on the interior fittings of motor-vehicles into line with international regulations. This deals with electronic windows improving provisions particularly with regard to child safety (See Safety Monitors 28/29).
Roadworthiness test for commercial vehicles
In the Parliament's plenary of 14 March 2000 two amendments on technical roadside inspection of the roadworthiness of commercial vehicles circulating in the Community by rapporteur Wilhelm Ernst Pieckyk (PSE, D) were approved. The first stated that commercial vehicles should be used only if they are maintained to full technical roadworthiness instead of a high degree of technical roadworthiness. The second stipulated: "Member States shall draw up arrangements for the penalties applicable where a driver or undertaking fails to abide by the technical requirements verified on the basis of this Directive. They shall take all necessary measures to ensure that these penalties are enforced. The penalties thus provided for shall be effective, proportionate and dissuasive" (see Safety Monitor 28)
MARINE & INLAND WATERWAY SAFETY
Safety of vessels
A Commission Communication is expected before the summer on improving existing legislation on the liability of ship owners and marine authorities, the use of dual-hulled tankers, crew training and conditions of employment and the creation of a database covering the global fleet (see below).
Signature of Equasis Agreement for a database on maritime safety
On 28 January 2000, the European Commission, the maritime administrations of France, United Kingdom, Spain, Singapore and the US Coast Guard signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the setting up of the Equasis information system. Equasis will be a database collecting safety-related information on the world's merchant fleet from both public and private sources and making it easily accessible on the Internet. The launch is planned for May 2000 and the internet address will be www.equasis.org.
COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
European Civil Aviation Conference
On January 28 2000 Transport Ministers from the 38 member countries of the ECAC agreed that air traffic operations could be improved by a combination of European and national measures. Mr Leuenberger, Swiss Federal Counsellor on Transport said that besides delays and airport congestion, he also acknowledged that growth in air traffic has repercussions for the environment and safety.
Mr Auer, President of the ECAC said that the privatisation of air traffic control was not on the conference agenda and suggested that air transport should be regarded as a public service. Short-term measures will be the implementation of an improved traffic flow management system from the end of 2001 and the introduction in 2002 of navigation corridors and additional radio frequencies. For the long term the session permitted Ministers to update their strategy in dealing with the probable increase in demand by 2015
Common aviation area EU/US
During the presentation of the results of the Beyond Open Skies conference of December 1999 to the Council, the Transport Commissioner asked for a mandate for the European Commission to negotiate a transatlantic common aviation area.
At the moment a technical dialogue between the two parties is taking place and the mandate is expected to be given during the French Presidency in the second half of 2000 (see Safety Monitor 29).
Single European airspace
The first meeting of the high-level group on the creation of a single European airspace held in Brussels on January 2 2000, yielded a consensus on the objectives, mandate and work programme for the coming months. The Commission announced its intention to introduce proposals which will be examined over the second half of the year. Group members were divided between six working parties: air traffic management; air traffic control; regulatory framework; need to separate functions; support measures and incentives; and human factors. At its second meeting of February 17 2000, the main topics were separation of duties and provision of services.
The high level working group which was set up at the meeting of 9 and 10 December 1999 by the European Ministers of Transport will submit an initial report on Air Traffic Control to the next Transport Council of 28 March 2000.
European airline industry
On March 21-23, 2000 the Regional, Transport and Tourism Committee of the European Parliament will vote on the report from Mr Dirk Sterckx (ELDR, B) on the Commission's Communication on the European airline industry: competitiveness, from single market to world-wide challenges. The communication's aim is two-fold : to assess the progress which has been made and second to identify the initiatives which can contribute to the competitiveness of the industry. The communication calls for e.g. more efficient harmonisation of safety rules through the creation of a European Aviation Safety Authority and setting up of databases.
Mrs Jacqueline Foster's (PPE, UK) opinion on behalf of the Industry, External Trade and Research Committee, adopted on February 29, 2000 calls for the former Committee to include, amongst other things: the setting up of an independent European body, the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA); points out that, in order to ensure that respect for safety rules and the imperative need for safety override any other considerations, air traffic control must remain a public service; and offers a strong support for the Galileo project.
ETSC NEWSNew international review of safety policies for pedestrians and cyclists in urban areas
These were the conclusions of a new ETSC report, "The safety of pedestrians and cyclists in urban areas" prepared by independent experts from across Europe. The report identifies best practice internationally and makes recommendations for initiatives by the EU and Member States.
Chairman of the review Professor Rudolf Günther said: "It should be a high priority for those responsible for traffic systems in our urban areas to cater much better for the needs and physical vulnerabilities of pedestrians and cyclists, including people with reduced mobility. Walking and cycling are otherwise healthy and environmentally-friendly means of transport, but the risks of death and injury are higher than for all other modes except motorcycling."
Co-editor of the review, Professor Richard Allsop said: "By implementing known countermeasures it should be possible to achieve considerable increases in walking and cycling and still reduce the numbers of deaths and injuries among pedestrians and cyclists. However, much deeper commitment is needed from policymakers at local, national and EU levels to bring about improvements in the safety of vulnerable road users."
Jeanne Breen, Executive Director, ETSC said: "At EU level, legislation requiring safer car fronts for pedestrians and pedal cyclists on new car designs is an important action that could be taken now to improve road safety. If cars on the road now met EEVC tests then up to 2,000 deaths and 19,000 serious injuries to pedestrians and cyclists would be prevented annually. The socio-economic cost of the injuries and lives that could be saved is over 6 billion euro."
SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS
For action by Member States and Local Authorities
For action by EU
Legislation and standards
Best practice guidelines and information exchange
INTERNATIONAL EVENTS DIARY
18-21 May 2000
22-26 May 2000
28-31 May 2000
7–9 June 2000
14–16 June 2000
4-7 Sept. 2000
6-8 Sept. 2000
12 Sept. 2000
20-22 Sept. 2000
20-22 Sept. 2000
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