This month the European Transport Safety Council has published a new report entitled ‘How safe are new cars sold in the EU?’ which looks at safety in new vehicles across the EU and it unfortunately found that far too few road users in Europe are benefitting from new vehicle safety technology and innovations.
The report’s final point was that an over reliance on voluntary testing programmes rather than actual regulatory standards have hampered the spread of the benefits from new technology and it claims that the whole of Europe’s car safety framework needs to be looked at and is in need of an ‘overhaul’ as the current minimum standards in place aren’t sufficient and require urgent changes.
Improvements in vehicle safety in new models across Europe has been driven by a set of compulsory EU and UNECE requirements as well as by the European New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP). Euro NCAP is a five-star rating system and it has become the leading recognisable standard for safety in vehicles as the crash tests carried out by Euro NCAP are stricter than those required by the mandatory legislation.
The data published by ETSC shows that only around 50% of all new vehicles sold in 2013 scored a 5-star rating from Euro NCAP and this was during the 2010-13 testing cycle. The council suggest that it is the legally compulsory safety standards being out of date which is slowing down the whole safety process, even for Euro NCAP and they suggest that a car which meets the current minimum safety standards for the EU would receive a rock bottom zero-star rating from Euro NCAP.
Executive Director of Antonio Avenoso commented: “We need an overhaul of vehicle safety in the EU to ensure that the latest advances benefit the many not the few. The starting point must be bringing today’s regulatory tests and required standard equipment bang up to date.
“In the past, it has taken 20 years for technologies such as Electronic Stability Control (ESC) to be made mandatory.
“This should not be allowed to happen again with the new generation of lifesaving technology such as Automated Emergency Braking, Intelligent Speed Assistance and passenger Seat Belt Reminders.”
The report also suggested that carmakers consider pedestrian protection amongst the lowest of their priorities and that car occupants are the ones who have benefitted most from safety improvements when compared with other road users.
ETSC want more testing, better, up to date legislation and more parity across Europe so the comparatively good standards of safety, when compared with the rest of the world, can be built upon.