Press release
22 November 2001


Next Monday (26th November) the EU Council of Ministers may give the green light to the European Commission and car industry to go ahead with their draft negotiated agreement on pedestrian protection despite the fact that:

  • The only tests certain to be carried out in the agreement will provide road users in 11 years time with only 25% of the protection promised by tests developed for legislation over a long research programme funded by the EU and Member States (500 lives saved compared with 2000 lives).
  • A car offering 70% of the protection offered by the tests developed for legislation (the Honda Civic) is on the road now. The additional manufacturing cost of providing this 70% protection has been estimated by the British independent national research laboratory (TRL) at less than 10 Euro (6.50)! The additional development cost to industry of fully meeting the tests is estimated in cost benefit studies at no more than 30 Euro per car.

In a letter to MEPs, who are preparing their opinion on this voluntary agreement, ETSC points out that the safety content of this agreement is too weak and fails to provide the high level of protection specified by the EU Treaty in relation to the harmonisation process. It fails to introduce with certainty the scientific tests that have been ready for years. It fails even to implement best practice achieved to date by the industry; and as a private deal between the industry and the Commission, bypasses the European Parliament and Member States on a crucial matter of road safety.

ETSC continues its call for a Council and European Parliament Directive to introduce the four tests developed for legislation for new types of cars, to save 2000 lives and 18000 serious injuries annually, by 2008 at the very latest, as originally envisaged by the Commission. In ETSC's view this would set out clear performance targets to provide focus for industry effort while allowing the European New Car Assessment Programme (EuroNCAP) to encourage earlier take up, as it has done so effectively with EU legislation on front and side impact car occupant protection.

Jeanne Breen, ETSC Executive Director said today: "If this deal goes through it would be a missed opportunity to save 1,500 more lives annually. It would set a worrying precedent for future vehicle safety harmonisation and provide a costly example of EU policymaking at its worst. How could this happen when the EU has just set a highly ambitious target to reduce road deaths by 50% by 2010?

"If this agreement goes through it would give a clear signal that, contrary to what it would have us believe, the EU is not working either for the individual citizen or in the interests of public safety. There can be no more important matter for EU-wide legislation to address.

"We hope that the European Parliament will not be taken in by the extensive lobbying of the car industry which has blocked progress on this issue for over a decade. MEPs must continue to look out for the interests of the vulnerable in our society and put the protection of children and senior citizens before industrial convenience."

Contact details: Jeanne Breen, Executive Director + 32 (0) 2 230 4106/4004