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EU says new car safety rules can save 5,000 lives

EU says new car safety rules can save 5,000 lives

BRUSSELS, May 23 (Reuters) - The European Commission unveiled new vehicle safety rules on Friday that it said could save 5,000 lives a year on Europe's roads and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by cutting fuel consumption.

From 2012, all new cars sold in the European Union will have to be fitted with advanced low-noise, low-resistance tyres, tyre pressure monitoring systems and electronic stability controls.

Manufacturers will have to build advanced emergency brakes and lane departure warning systems into all new heavy-duty vehicles from the same date.

A Commission spokesman told reporters the new security standards were expected to add between 100 and 300 euros ($157 and $472) to the price of a new car, but the extra cost would be more than offset over the car's lifetime by savings on petrol.

"We think based on Danish studies that we can save 5,000 lives a year by the introduction of electronic stability controls for all vehicles including passenger cars and lane departure warning systems and assisted emergency braking systems for heavy vehicles," spokesman Ton Van Lierop said.

The proposed regulation sets more stringent noise emission limits for tyres than existing laws and introduces new requirements on wet grip and rolling resistance to help reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from cars and trucks.

Van Lierop acknowledged that some of the new safety features were already built into some cars but said that making them mandatory would bring big improvements.

The rules, which must be approved by EU governments and the European Parliament, should cut petrol consumption by 5 percent and reduce vehicle emissions by some 7 grams per km, he said.

The Commission has proposed that average emissions for new cars be limited to 120 g/km from 2012, with fines for manufacturers whose fleet exceeds that limit.

Improved engine technology is meant to bring the average down to 130 g/km from the current level of more than 160 g/km, and improvements in tyres, gears, air conditioning and other features are supposed to deliver a further 10 g/km.

As part of its drive to simplify and reduce the amount of EU regulation, the Commission proposed replacing 50 existing directives, and about 100 amendments, with a single regulation on safety requirements for motor vehicles.

The rules would apply first to new vehicles, allowing a transition period for adapting vehicles already on the road.

Van Lierop denied charges by the campaign group Transport and Environment that the EU regulation would exempt gas-guzzling sports utility vehicles (SUVs) from the tyre noise standards.

The only exemption was for four-wheel-drive vehicles used off the roads by fire, police and emergency services, he said. (Reporting by Paul Taylor; Editing by Dale Hudson)

source: REUTERS

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