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C 73/66 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 9.3.


3.6. The Committee notes that, subsequent to the Resolution on the implementation of the ISM Code.
drawing-up of the draft directive and indeed only two The Committee expects that the Commission will take
weeks prior to the adoption of this opinion, the Assembly the terms of this resolution into account in furthering
of the IMO adopted on 27 November 1997 a further the implementation of the directive.

Brussels, 10 December 1997.

The President
of the Economic and Social Committee

Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on the ‘Communication from the Commission
to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the
Committee of the Regions promoting road safety in the EU — the programme for 1997-2001’

(98/C 73/19)

On 16 April 1997 the European Commission decided to consult the Economic and Social
Committee, under Article 198 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, on the
above-mentioned communication.

The Section for Transport and Communications, which was responsible for preparing the
Committee’s work on the subject, adopted its opinion on 12 November 1997. The rapporteur
was Mr Ghigonis.

At its 350th plenary session of 10 and 11 December 1997 (meeting of 10 December 1997) the
Economic and Social Committee adopted the following opinion by 79 votes to one, with five

1. Introduction — accident avoidance measures; for example curbing

of alcohol and drug/medicine use by drivers, and the
1.1. The Commission launched a first action pro- application of telematics;
gramme on road safety (1) in 1993. Significant progress
has been achieved, due in large part to the role of the — tools to reduce the consequences of accidents when
Commission and the European Parliament as road safety they occur, including the development of safety
champions. Nevertheless, the situation remains far from rating programmes and submission of proposals for
satisfactory, as illustrated by the 45 000 people killed various technical measures.
and 1,6 million injured each year.
1.3. The key elements of the 1997-2001 programme
1.2. In its present communication the Commission are:
therefore proposes an additional strategy to accelerate
improvement in road safety. This three-pronged strat- — a Commission recommendation to fully take into
egy, based on the principle that the high cost of accidents account the very high costs of road accidents in a
(roughly ECU 1 million per fatality) should be fully more widespread application of cost-benefit assess-
taken into account in the safety policies of Member ments for road safety measures;
States, comprises the following elements:
— an integrated EU information system including
— gathering and dissemination of information and best information on accident statistics, exposure data,
practice, notably through the setting-up of an EU implementation of road safety measures, research,
road safety information system; best practice and the application of existing legis-
(1) Communication from the Commission for a first action — measures to combat fatigue and the use of alcohol,
programme on road safety (COM(93) 246 final). medicines and drugs while driving;
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— application of technology and telematics to ensure of which is to allow the Member States to take the most
safer driving; appropriate measures on the basis of a more thorough
knowledge of past experience and the results of detailed
— coordination and support of safety rating systems in statistical analysis. They will then have a better under-
order to provide scientifically correct information to standing of the role played by different factors in road
consumers on the safety aspects of vehicles. safety. It also takes the view that Community action
should embrace the adoption of coordinated standards,
controls and penalties in areas such as vehicle roadwor-
1.4. Lastly, the Commission will arrange for the thiness, granting and withdrawal of driving licences,
resources required to implement the programme to be and professional drivers’ driving time and rest stops,
made available through the usual procedures and will with the aim of encouraging road safety and harmonizing
monitor the road safety situation in the EU as well as the conditions of competition. Increased harmonization
report on the progress of the programme in due course. of road signs is also needed and should be included.

2. General comments With this in mind, the Committee recommends that the
Member States accept in word and in deed Community
responsibility in this field, insofar as justified by the
legal framework created by the Maastricht Treaty.
2.1. Overall objective

2.1.1. The Committee fully supports the initiatives

designed to promote road safety, and welcomes the 2.3. General criticisms
Commission communication and the conclusions of the
Transport Council meeting of 17 and 18 June 1997.

2.1.2. The decline in accidents achieved in recent 2.3.1. The Committee would, however, point out
years is encouraging and maintaining this trend should that the promotion of road safety must take into
be a priority. In the Committee’s opinion, therefore, the account the economic needs and budgetary restrictions
European Union’s priorities should be the coordination of Member States. This means that certain measures are
of initiatives, a better understanding of the problems and politically easier to take, even if others might be more
how to solve them, and fostering greater commitment on effective. We must be careful that this does not lead to
the part of both politicians and road-users. infrastructure not being improved, road-users — learner
drivers, for instance — not being properly trained, or
measures that are too strict or not strict enough. In
2.2. Subsidiarity addition, it is important that measures designed to
improve road safety do not distort competition in any
2.2.1. Article 75 of the Maastricht Treaty explicitly
includes road safety in the transport policy objectives,
thus confirming and reinforcing Community responsi- As part of this, and given the full range of interests
bility in this area. The Committee would nonetheless involved, the Committee would endorse an action plan
note that the subsidiarity principle should be brought to providing clear and quantifiable advantages at EU level
bear in the promotion of road safety, and not merely on and supported by the grass-roots players — political
formal grounds, as a matter of principle. There are in decision-makers, administrations and scientific insti-
fact considerable climatological and cultural differences tutions as well as the private sector.
within the EU, and even basic factors such as road-user
education, infrastructure and levels of vehicle ownership
As far as the main causes of accidents are concerned,
the Committee takes the view that more attention
At the same time, however, there is a constantly growing should be paid to high and inappropriate speeds and
international dimension to road safety, fuelled by drink-driving. Drivers over the alcohol limit are respon-
tourism, the movement of goods and Community sible for at least 20 % of serious and fatal injuries in the
technical standards. EU. The Committee thus urges that the Council adopt
the draft directive on blood alcohol levels without delay,
This internationalization of road safety means that the and that this should be merely the first stage in reducing
principle of subsidiarity must be employed in order to such levels.
achieve specific results, not just to pay lip-service to
lofty principles.
The Committee asks the Commission to consider, at the
2.2.2. For these reasons, the Committee supports the earliest opportunity, the use of numerical targets for the
approach proposed by the Commission, the main feature reduction of fatalities in the European Union against
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which the progress of improved road safety can be have been secured when a new piece of legislation affects
judged. the arrangements. Without retrospective action of this
kind, the foundations of the legislative programme will
not be as strong as desired and it will not be possible to
2.3.2. The Committee would also like to point out ensure that the political will to improve the situation
that certain aspects have been either totally omitted has been duly harnessed.
from the communication or dealt with only briefly.
Given the importance of the human factor, it believes
that great efforts should be made to encourage people 3.2. Harmonization (point 3.1 of the communication)
to behave in a safe manner. The issue of safe driving is
often not sufficiently addressed either in initial driver
training or in the criteria for issuing driving licenses. 3.2.1. The Committee believes that it is vital that
Checks, campaigns and financial penalties are other key legislative measures adopted by the EU are implemented
elements in influencing driver behaviour. and upheld uniformly. Lack of harmonization in this
area could create or worsen distortions of competition,
especially in road transport.
More emphasis should be placed on finding out who is
responsible for accidents. In addition, it would be
valuable to carry out road safety assessments before 3.3. Quantified objective (point 3.2 of the communi-
investments in infrastructure are made. These would cation)
give maintenance programmes direction and structure.

3.3.1. The Committee is disappointed that, lacking

2.3.3. Finally, the Committee is disappointed that the the means to achieve it, the Commission is unable to fix
many interesting proposals in the communication are a quantitative objective for accident reduction. The
only contained in the annexes, and that priorities or the Committee is in favour of such objectives at a national
trade-off between costs and benefits are not specified. level, and also — as soon as possible — at European
level, as this would necessitate a greater effort to reduce
road accidents.
2.3.4. The Committee believes that the estimated cost
of ECU 1 million for each person killed on the roads
should give greater impetus to strengthening the priority
3.4. Cost/Benefit (point 3.3 of the communication)
given to road safety at political level. It should encourage
decision-makers to choose effective measures. However,
care must be taken to ensure that the figure is not 3.4.1. Subject to the observation contained in
misused to replace the most costly measures, such as point 3.5.1 below, the Committee supports the use of
certain costly changes to infrastructure, by less expensive the cost/benefit formula for decision-making and in
measures. Road safety depends on complex relationships deciding the priority to be given to various road safety
between vehicle quality, infrastructure and behaviour. measures. It supports the Commission’s approach, based
There is a risk that politically expedient choices could on economic costs and losses, as long as this is not used
be made which would eventually be to the detriment of to justify cancelling initiatives which would improve
an all-round advanced system. road safety but do not fulfil the condition of ECU
1 million for each life saved.

3. Specific comments 3.5. Safety performance (point 3.5 of the communi-


3.1. The CARE programme and its use (point 2.2 of 3.5.1. The Committee welcomes and endorses the
the communication) Commission’s positive attitude to the role of cham-
pioning safe vehicle construction and test programmes
carried out by private organizations (EuroNCAP — new
3.1.1. The CARE database should facilitate a much vehicle assessment programmes) to gauge the safety
greater understanding of the causes of accidents and in performance of vehicles. The results of such tests could
this way provide a basis for legislative and related be an effective tool to promote the marketing of safer
non-legislative measures. Even if budgetary constraints vehicles: the industry has in fact responded in a very
prevent detailed and systematic analysis of the data by encouraging manner to the commercial pressures
a Community institution, the various national adminis- brought about by systems which inform consumers
trations and scientific, occupational and commercial about vehicle safety. Progress is made very much earlier
institutions in the EU must have access to it in order to in this way than through legislative channels.
set priorities for action and decide on future legislation.
3.5.2. The Committee notes — as does the Com-
mission — that there is a problem where differences
3.1.2. The procedure for registering and monitoring arise between (a) statutory testing and the test methods
data on accidents should be designed in such a way that of private organizations and (b) the test methods of the
checks can be made to see that the expected advantages various private organizations themselves.
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3.5.3. In this connection, the Committee welcomes 3.6.2. A n n e x I I I , f i e l d 1

the Commission’s intention to encourage statutory tests Although the Committee welcomes the wide range of
and those carried out by consumers’ organizations to be the measures set out in the communication, it would
brought more into line, without however calling for the have preferred priorities to be clearly set out. While
Commission’s endeavours to restrict the competence and recognizing that using the CARE database will enable
responsibility of the private organizations concerned. these priorities to be defined more accurately, it would
wish to draw attention to the results of research and
studies that are currently available. The Committee
3.5.4. Nevertheless, the Commission should not hesi- would especially stress the importance of direct action
tate to bring forward legislative proposals. Two areas to influence road users in order to boost the impact of
for consideration are front underrun protection for improvements to infrastructures and vehicle safety,
heavy goods vehicles and daytime running lights on particularly in the shape of more stringent checks on
motorcycles and cars. driving behaviour and vehicle inspections, backed by a
policy to raise awareness. Publicity is in fact the only
tool available if legislative measures are difficult to
institute or monitor, such as for instance in the area of
tiredness affecting non-professional drivers.
3.6. The 1997-2001 programme
3.6.3. T h e external dimension and
The Committee supports the notion of an external
3.6.1. A n n e x I I I , f i e l d 1 dimension, mainly to ensure that users of Community
infrastructure coming from third countries do not pose
a significant risk.
While the Committee welcomes the objective of a The Committee points out the importance of having a
cost/benefit analysis of road safety measures, it considers Community budget on a par with the expectations
unrealistic the idea of making a like-for-like comparison created by the communication. It invites the Council
between, for example, education in primary schools and and the European Parliament to increase the relevant
an obstacle detection system. It also notes that results budget lines in order to avoid the possibility that new
of comparisons can vary greatly between countries, and expenditure allocated to collecting and analysing data
so would recommend that the terms of reference of these could mean less money is available in 1998 and 1999 for
studies in the FM5s be sufficiently clear. education and the dissemination of information.

Brussels, 10 December 1997.

The President
of the Economic and Social Committee