Revision of EU vehicle safety rules

The number of road deaths has stagnated or even grown in some Member States since 2013. In order to reach the goal of a 50% reduction of road deaths by 2020, 8 transport ministers call for support from the European Commission for better vehicle safety rules.

Nordic Logistics Association has followed the progress of the General Safety Regulation for some time. The General Safety Regulation 661/2009 sets the EU rules for the safety of drivers, passengers and children in vehicles (any vehicle from cars to buses and trucks). Although there have been some updates on the regulation during the last years, the latest revision of the General Safety Regulation dates back to 2009. It is announced that the European Commission will come with a revision this year.

In December 2016, the European Commission presented a report on 19 new measures forthe General Safety Regulation. The Commission will examine these measures further and if the results confirm that action should be taken, the Commission will move forward with proposals.  For trucks these measures could consist of better emergency brake systems, adaptive speed systems, driver drowsiness and distraction monitoring, crash data recorder, front end design and vision and rear underrun protection. Although these measures are good and important in order to increase the safety for drivers and passengers, it has been argued by the European Transport Safety Council that the proposed time frame was too long and not ambitious enough. Notably regarding the fact that most of the technologies needed are already available.

- Demands more action and to speed up the process at the European level on vehicle safety

This month (February 2017), the transport ministers from France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Ireland, Netherlands, Austria and Luxembourg wrote a letter to Elżbieta Bieńkowska - EU Commissioner for internal market. They demanded more European action for better vehicle safety rules. The European Union expects that Member States reduce their number of road deaths by half by 2020. However, recent figures show that the number of road deaths has stagnated or even grown in some Member States since 2013. In order to reach the European expectations, the ministers now demand more action and to speed up the process on the European level on vehicle safety.

The letter from the transport ministers stresses that: “A comprehensive approach to improving road safety also requires safer vehicles”. As road safety remains a national competence, vehicle safety is a European issue, and needs to be regulated at the European level. They note that applying more innovative technologies as well as designing cars and trucks in a safer manner, could be the solution to reach the goal of 50% reduction on road deaths by 2020. The ministers underlines that “Truck design has huge potential of improvement. According to a recent TRL study for the Commission, better direct vision and crash performance could save up to 900 lives per year. Camera and monitor systems that provide drivers with a 360° view around the vehicle can also contribute to better truck safety”.

Concerning other issues important for road safety, the ministers also ask the European Commission to look at the need for a binding legal framework for “mutual recognition of driving disqualifications”. Drivers that have lost their driving license in a Member State, other than their own country of residence, should not have the possibility to escape from this sanction when they leave the Member State in which the offence was committed. A mutual recognition of driving disqualifications at the European level would be of great improvement for road safety in the European Union.

According to the transport ministers, the huge potential of improvement in vehicle safety regulations and the strong support for European action should make the European Commission speed up the revisions and make it one of their top priorities.