Cynthia Barlow has been pushing for safer trucks for almost two decades, ever since her daughter Alex was killed by a concrete mixer on a London street at the age of 26.
That effort risks running into a third decade if Brussels fails to adopt new rules before the European election in May.
Lawmakers in the European Parliament’s internal market committee voted Thursday to push forward plans for a series of new technologies in vehicles that the European Commission estimates will save 25,000 lives over a 16-year period.
Crucially for Barlow, the rules set standards for trucks that could avoid deaths like Alex’s by requiring truckmakers to expand drivers’ range of vision and removing blind spots. The law would also force industry to deploy nascent digital technologies like advanced emergency braking, lane-keeping systems and intelligent speed assistance as standard.
But with the legislation crammed right up against the end of the Parliament’s mandate, there’s a chance these potentially life-saving improvements could be pushed back years.
The Commission is under pressure over its failure on road safety, and it’s almost certain to miss a deadline to cut European road deaths by 50 percent by 2020.
While EU industry ministers passed their take on the rules in November, the Parliament has been slow to put the rules to a vote. Thursday’s green light comes just under two months before the final plenary of this mandate, at which the text must be signed off for it to become law.
The Commission is under pressure over its failure on road safety, and it’s almost certain to miss a deadline to cut European road deaths by 50 percent by 2020. Allowing the new rules to slip back into the next mandate could lead to a delay of at least 18 months, according to Samuel Kenny at NGO Transport & Environment, which has backed Barlow’s campaign.
The Parliament’s rapporteur on the file, Polish conservative MEP Róża Gräfin von Thun und Hohenstein, blamed the Commission for the tight timetable. “We got the proposal very late from the European Commission and we didn’t manage to shorten the whole process,” she said.
Others say the delays are internal. “[Parliament officials]told us that they don’t have room to convene an additional committee meeting,” said one exasperated Commission official who wanted Thursday’s vote to come sooner.