Road safety: Commission proposes better vehicle design to improve drivers' vision

January 14, 2002

Brussels, 11 January 2001

On 7 January 2002, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a new directive on rear view mirrors and supplementary indirect vision systems for motor vehicles. The proposal aims to improve road user safety by upgrading the performance of rear view mirrors and accelerating the introduction of new technologies that increase the field of indirect vision for drivers of passenger cars, buses and lorries. As many severe road accidents at crossings, junctions or roundabouts are caused by vehicle drivers who are unaware that other road users are very close to, or beside, their vehicles, the Commission proposes measures to reduce blind spots in the immediate area around vehicles.

Commission Proposal

Erkki Liikanen, Enterprise and Information Society Commissioner said: "Improving road safety requires all of us to play a part. Much of it is about good driving by all of us as individuals. Local and national governments are all active in promoting safety, but some issues require a Europe-wide solution. Car design is one such field where common EU standards can help save lives."

"Blind spot" accidents often happen when vehicles are changing direction at crossings, junctions or roundabouts. When larger vehicles such as trucks or buses are involved, these accidents frequently lead to serious injuries or even fatalities of vulnerable road users like pedestrians, cyclists or drivers of smaller motorcycles.

This proposal, based on studies and research that the Commission has discussed with Member States, industry and other interested parties, would add specific blind spot reduction requirements to the existing Directive on rear-view mirrors(1), as last amended in 1988. The key changes would entail:

Mounting additional mirrors on certain vehicles (front mirrors on trucks, exterior rear view mirrors on the passenger's side of cars, aspherical mirrors on passenger cars and small commercial vehicles);

Upgrading technical characteristics of mirrors (e.g. curvature of the surface now 1 200 mm instead of 1 800 mm for main rear view mirrors), in line with technical progress;

Replacing certain mirrors with other indirect vision systems, such as camera/monitor systems. This proposal for a Directive, which has to be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, would introduce the first mandatory harmonised requirements for the type-approval of mirrors and systems for indirect vision for motor vehicles for the carriage of passengers and for the carriage of goods within the EU. In this context the Commission has already received expressions of support for its approach from Member States, Members of the European Parliament and from consumer groups.

For further information tomotive/index.htm

(1) (71/1/EEC)

DN: IP/02/36 Date: 11/01/2002 esten.ksh/

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