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The opinions expressed in the studies are those of the consultant and do not necessarily represent the position of the Commission.

Vehicle Safety

This text on vehicle safety, reviews the scientific studies on the magnitude and nature of the safety problem, the contributing accident factors, and the effectiveness of countermeasures.

For information on the development of casualty frequencies and accident circumstances over the period 1996-2005 per European country, please consult the Basic Fact Sheet Pedestrianspdf(467 kB), the Basic Fact Sheet Bicyclespdf(574 kB), the Basic Fact Sheet Motorcycles and Mopedspdf(533 kB), the Basic Fact Sheet Car Occupantspdf(517 kB) and the Basic Fact Sheet Heavy Goods Vehicles & Busespdf(502 kB) on the Data section of the website.

Vehicle design and road safety

Improving vehicle safety is a key strategy used in addressing international and national road casualty reduction targets and in achieving a safer road traffic system. Vehicle safety addresses the safety of all road users and currently comprises measures to help avoid a crash (crash avoidance) or reduce injury in the event of a crash (crash protection). Substantial and evidence-based improvements have been made in the last 15 years and research has identified large scope for enhancing vehicle safety further. The European Commission has stated that If all cars were designed to provide crash protection equivalent to that of the best cars in their class, half of all fatal and disabling injuries could be avoided. There is large future promise of casualty reduction from crash avoidance and active safety technologies if technology development is prioritised to give maximum casualty reduction.

Vehicle safety policy

Improvements to vehicle safety results from legislation (much of which is now agreed in the European Union and internationally) consumer information, the initiatives of individual manufacturers and product liability considerations. EU legislation aims for a minimum but high level of protection across the product line; consumer information aims to encourage the highest possible levels of safety; and car industry policies increasingly promote safety as a marketable commodity. Countries active in safety engage in international legislative development work; carry out national research and monitoring of vehicle safety; support the European New Car Assessment Programme; ensure that helmet and restraint usage laws are properly enforced and encourage local car industry to fast track key safety measures

Key issues for vehicle safety design

Safety design needs

A range of crash avoidance and crash protection measures is outlined for the protection of cars occupants, pedestrians, motorcyclists, minibus and bus users

Knowledge gaps

Effective vehicle safety design result relies upon continuing research and development, understanding of the source and mechanism of injury' protection in a range of crash conditions, regular monitoring of performance in real world conditions, and confirmation that new technologies are used and accepted. A range of research needs is outlined.