Press release
26 June 2001

SAVING LIVES THROUGH BETTER CAR DESIGN:
TIME FOR THE EU TO SET SAFETY PRIORITIES

Incoming EU Presidency and MEPs back conclusions of new ETSC study urging legislation over weak industry agreement on safer car fronts for pedestrians and cyclists.

A new international review of vehicle safety issued today by the European Transport Safety Council highlights the huge potential to reduce death and disability from motor vehicle design measures. Isabelle Durant, Deputy Prime Minister of Begium and incoming Chair of the EU Transport Council and Ewa Hedkvist Petersen MEP, the road safety rapporteur for the European Parliament voiced their support for the life-saving EU action recommended by the experts.

New evidence from one EU Member State shows that since the 1980s car crash protection has been the single most effective way of reducing road deaths and serious injuries achieving 15% of the total reduction compared with 11% for drink/drive measures and just over 6% for road safety engineering measures.

The review by Europe's leading independent vehicle safety experts proposes a comprehensive strategy of demonstrably effective legislative and consumer information measures to be carried out or supported by the EU (See Executive Summary).

Professor Adrian Hobbs, Chairman of ETSC's Vehicle Safety Working Party said: "Topping our list for immediate action is a Directive on safer car fronts for pedestrians and cyclists which could save up to 2100 lives and prevent 18000 injuries across the EU annually. We are also urging the Commission to improve further the current frontal impact protection test requirement for car occupants and to draw up a specification on seat belt reminders which could contribute cheaply and effectively to preventing 7000 car occupant deaths a year.

Isabelle Durant, Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium said: "Expediting EU action to reduce road death and injury is a priority for the incoming Belgian Presidency. ETSC's report demonstrates, beyond any doubt, the potential for effective EU action on vehicle design to save lives in every Member State. I share the European Parliament's and ETSC's view that the top priority is a Directive on safer car fronts to protect pedestrian and cyclists, many of whom are elderly or are children - the most vulnerable in society. Last June, the EUTransport Council also urged early legislation. I will do my best to encourage action on this and other measures cited in this report including mirrors on trucks.

Ewa Hedkvist Petersen MEP said: "Shortly, the European Commission are to take a decision on safer car fronts which could have a major impact on road safety. For all our sakes, let us hope that it is a decision to introduce robust legislation and open decision making on this vital matter of public safety rather than a weak negotiated agreement with serious loopholes and conducted without transparency.

For further information concerning safer car fronts, please see ETSC Newsletter on European Vehicle Crash Protection 'CRASH', February 2001 edition. ETSC CRASH, February 2001 (pdf file)

To view the Executive Summary of the new ETSC report and texts of letters sent to Romano Prodi and the European Commissioners, please use the following links.

Letters to Romano Prodi and European Commissioners (pdf file)
ETSC Report - Priorities for EU Motor Vehicle Safety Design, Executive Summary

For further information: ETSC + 32 (0) 2 230 4106/4004

ETSC Press Notice 26 June 2001 in French
ETSC Press Notice 26 June 2001 in Dutch