Jul 9, 2010

Australian plan to improve vehicle safety adopted at UN

Australian plan to improve vehicle safety adopted at UN

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

July 9 2010

An Australian Government proposal to help save lives by improving the safety of cars in side crashes with narrow objects like poles and trees has been agreed to by the United Nations’ vehicle regulatory body.

The Australian proposal is to develop an international vehicle standard for pole side impact crashworthiness for the first time.

The standard will require safety measures, such as curtain side airbags, which will improve protection against head injuries in all side impact crashes.

The Australian proposal was supported unanimously by the United Nations World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, the peak international body on vehicle standards.

Over one in five fatalities on our roads are the result of side impacts, with pole side impacts specifically accounting for about 10 per cent of the nation’s road toll each year.

As the next step, Australia will lead an international working group of governments and car manufacturers to develop the standard.

Once adopted, the new standard would then be applied as a requirement for all vehicles sold in Australia.

The Government is also supporting development of the new standard with an extensive crash test program currently underway at Crashlab in Sydney.

It is critical that nations like ours work internationally to develop new safety proposals due to the growing harmonisation of vehicle safety standards and the global nature of the motor vehicle industry.

For example, 85 per cent of the new vehicles sold every year in Australia are imported, and we are also a significant exporter of vehicles.

The Government has also worked closely with the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, which has developed a voluntary industry code to increase the fitting of head protecting side airbags.