New EU rules covering road infrastructure safety and minimum vehicle safety standards have been approved by a key committee of MEPs in the European Parliament.

The Transport committee voted to approve an update to rules governing road infrastructure safety management. While existing requirements ensure governments carry out regular road safety audits, identify high-risk sites and prioritise safety when building new roads, these rules apply only to major European roads known collectively as the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T).

Last year the European Commission proposed an update that would extend the rules to all motorways, all “primary roads” and all non-urban roads that receive EU funding. ETSC and other organisations have been calling for all main urban and rural roads to be covered, as many more people die in collisions on these types of roads than on motorways. MEPs voted to back the proposal to cover primary roads. They also backed a European Commission proposal that performance standards for road signs and road markings across Europe should be developed.

In relation to vehicle safety measures, the Transport committee voted in support of a wide-range of new measures. An update to the EU’s General Safety Regulation for motor vehicles was proposed by the European Commission in May and includes a number of new mandatory technologies such as Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) and an overridable form of Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA), to help drivers keep within the speed limit.

In addition MEPs requested that eCall, an automated emergency calling system fitted to all new cars and vans in the EU, should also be fitted to lorries and buses.

“MEPs deserve praise for backing a strong package of road infrastructure and vehicle safety legislation today,” said Policy Director of the European Transport Safety Council, Ellen Townsend. “We hope the final package that ends up being agreed will make a significant contribution to reducing the 500 deaths on European roads each week, and that pressure to weaken the rules is strongly resisted during the upcoming negotiations.”