New cars today do more to protect life than vehicles just 10 years ago,
and by 2025, half of the cars on the road in Europe will be capable of
“reading” signs and markings. The need for good, consistent signs and
markings for drivers remains unchanged since motoring history began. Now
vehicles, like drivers, will not function well where road markings and
signs are worn out, inconsistent or confusing. This means putting an end
to the different fonts, colours, sizes and shapes that are seen in even
the most basic, internationally standardised safety signs such as “stop”
and “give way”. It means standardising the width of white lines and the
amount of light they reflect – and ensuring the edges of major roads are

“Roads that cars can read”, a report published today by EuroRAP and Euro
NCAP, makes important reading for those who maintain Europe’s roads of
economic importance. It says that the majority of travel – and road
deaths – occur on these roads which comprise just 10 per cent of the
network. Inadequate maintenance and differences in road markings and
traffic signs are now a major obstacle to the effective use of
technology in vehicles, such as lane departure warning and traffic sign

The report is launched as EU Commissioner for Transport Siim Kallas, FIA
President Jean Todt and key stakeholders debate the future challenges of
advanced vehicle design at a conference in Brussels today. The
“connected” car can provide drivers with access to extensive information
about congestion, accidents, road conditions, road works, weather
changes and upcoming hazards. It will enable vehicles to communicate
with each other and provide warnings, such as unsafe lane departure or
immediate risk of collision.

In the foreword to the report, EuroRAP chair John Dawson and Euro NCAP
Secretary General Michiel Van Ratingen point out that improved car
safety such as crumple zones and airbags has been the single biggest
factor in falling road deaths in many countries in Europe in the last
decade, but road crashes still result in 300,000 deaths and serious
injuries every year, and a 2% loss of GDP.

In launching the report, John Dawson says: “There needs to be a
fundamental change in the discipline we apply to road infrastructure.
Lane markings are now the ‘rails’ for self-steering vehicles. The
safety standards of the rail and aviation industry need to be applied to
major roads.” Michiel van Ratingen added: “We set demanding standards
for 5-star cars. We must now move towards 5-star roads where the
quality of road markings and signs are assured to work with modern

The report calls on the EU, governments and stakeholders to respond to
the recommendations of the working party of cross-industry experts who
have proposed adopting clear, common standards for road markings and
traffic signs on major rural roads which many countries have adopted.
The report also calls for an independent survey of Europe’s major roads
to assess the scale of action needed to meet these standards.

The report has been welcomed by road users, roads and vehicle
manufacturers and road safety organisations.

In an unprecedented statement published for the conference, the FIA,
European Road Federation and ACEA (the European Automobile
Manufacturers’ Association), representing consumers and roads and
vehicle industries join EuroRAP and Euro NCAP in calling for a step-up
in road maintenance standards, saying: “Roads that are not regularly
maintained cost many times more to repair and reconstruct. Roads that
are not properly maintained, marked and signed result in avoidable
death, bodily injury and damage. Roads that are unfit for purpose fail
to provide the connectivity on which jobs, the economy and society

“Assuring the quality of Europe’s roads must start with the network of
greatest social and economic importance. It is unacceptable that this
busy network on which so much travel and risk is concentrated should not
meet basic standards.”

The report Roads that Cars can Read: A Quality Standard for Road
Markings and Traffic Signs on Major Rural Roads is published jointly by
EuroRAP and EuroNCAP with contributions from the FIA, ERF and ACEA has
been prepared to inform the Developing Safe, Efficient and Connected
Mobility conference.

About Euro NCAP

Euro NCAP organizes crash tests on new vehicles and provides motoring
consumers with a realistic and independent assessment of the safety
performance of some of the most popular cars sold in Europe. Established
in 1997 and backed by several European Governments, motoring, consumer
and insurance organizations, Euro NCAP has rapidly become a catalyst for
encouraging significant safety improvements to new car design. Visit our
website: HERE


Christopher Macgowan

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