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Postup : 2006/2172(INI)
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Stadia projednávání dokumentu : A6-0127/2007

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PV 09/05/2007 - 14
CRE 09/05/2007 - 14

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Verbatim report of proceedings
Wednesday, 9 May 2007 - Brussels OJ edition

14. Retrofitting of mirrors to heavy goods vehicles (debate)

  President The next item is the report (A6-0124/2007) by Paolo Costa, on behalf of the Committee on Transport and Tourism, on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the retrofitting of mirrors to heavy goods vehicles registered in the Community (COM(2006)0570 – C6-0332/2006 – 2006/0183(COD)).


  Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the Commission. (FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, on 5 October 2006, the Commission adopted a proposal for a directive on the retrofitting of mirrors to heavy goods vehicles.

Every year 400 people are killed in Europe because lorry drivers have not seen them. The victims are usually vulnerable road users: children on bicycles, pedestrians and motorcyclists. As far back as in 2003, the European Parliament and the Council adopted Directive 2003/97/EC, which stipulates the use of better mirrors to considerably reduce the blind spot for lorries newly put on the road. All new heavy goods vehicles put on the road since January 2007 have been fitted with these mirrors. This is a very good measure, but what do we do about the millions of existing lorries that do not have these mirrors and that will continue to be driven on our roads for many years yet, creating a significant hazard where road safety is concerned?

The Commission considered that we could not wait 15 to 20 years for the lorry fleet to be completely replaced. We have therefore proposed that lorries of more than 3.5 tonnes put on the road since 1998 should be retrofitted with the same mirrors as new lorries. Where that is not possible, for technical or economic reasons, alternative solutions may be considered. Member States that have already taken measures for fitting better mirrors on existing lorries will be exempt, under our proposal, from the obligations laid down in the directive. Finally, the Commission has proposed fairly tight deadlines for the transposition and entry into force of the directive in order to increase the effectiveness of the measure.

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, it is clear that we have here a means of saving lives that is quite within our reach, and we would be wrong, all of us, if we did not do everything possible to have these measures implemented rapidly. I thank Parliament for all its efforts along these lines.


  Engelbert Lütke Daldrup, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) Mr President, Commission Vice-President Barrot, ladies and gentlemen, we are delighted that it has been possible to reach a consensus on an important dossier in the field of road safety – the proposal for a Directive on the retrofitting of trucks with improved wing mirrors – at the preliminary stage. We should like to give Mr Costa, the rapporteur for this dossier, and his colleagues our sincere thanks for their constructive cooperation.

The Community has set itself the objective of halving the number of traffic-accident fatalities by 2010 if possible. To bring us closer to meeting this objective, all the appropriate measures must be taken as soon as possible.

The fitting of trucks with improved mirrors to tackle the problem of the so-called ‘blind spot’ is an important milestone on the road to enhanced road safety.

The deadline of 31 March 2009 for the retrofitting of trucks represents the best-possible compromise between calls for the rapid implementation of the Directive in the interests of road safety, on the one hand, and the concern of some Member States that the deadlines for retrofitting may be too tight on the other.

Building on your support in tomorrow’s vote, we intend to adopt the Directive as quickly as possible at one of the next Council meetings.


  Paolo Costa (ALDE), rapporteur. (IT) Mr President, Commissioner, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, ladies and gentlemen, what we have before us is one of those measures that, modest though they appear, constitute one of the many positive contributions that are made by the European Union every day and that should perhaps be publicised better among Europeans.

The debate has been conducted very quickly, I think. Commissioner Barrot pointed out that the proposal in question was forwarded to Parliament and the Council in September 2006, and we shall certainly be in a position to complete the procedure at first reading by as early as tomorrow, in other words very quickly. In fact, we have no time to lose, bearing in mind that rapid implementation would enable us to save at least 400 lives per year. This, moreover, is what Parliament has focused on in an attempt to press for the directive to be implemented and transposed as soon as possible.

I think we have achieved a positive outcome. The idea was, in fact, to identify the number of heavy goods vehicles that, in the end, will have to adopt wide-angle mirrors, enabling drivers to see pedestrians and cyclists and so avoid knocking them down. This procedure will be applied to all heavy goods vehicles registered in Europe as from the year 2000, and the problem will be resolved by 31 March 2009. I would point out that it is existing lorries that are to be modernised since, as from 26 January of this year, the legislation already applies to all newly registered HGVs.

What we have here, then, is a useful outcome: progress towards the kind of road safety that needs to be guaranteed at European level. It is one of those cases in which I think it can be stated that the principle of subsidiarity is being applied in the opposite direction to normal. The point is, it is much better to have shared legislation at European level than to waste time, and consequently lose lives, devising 27 individual sets of regulations in the various Member States.


  Georg Jarzembowski, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. – (DE) Mr President, Mr Vice-President of the Commission, Mr President-in-Office of the Council, ladies and gentlemen, the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats welcomes the agreement reached with the Council at first reading. This is a good example of excellent cooperation. Naturally, we also thank the rapporteur, Mr Costa, for his extremely committed work.

The fact that we are taking a practical step towards reducing the number of traffic-accident fatalities is important, as it is of course insufficient to merely fit new trucks with new lateral blind spot mirrors; in addition, it is of prime importance that the many trucks already in service be retrofitted, as the Vice-President rightly said.

It is regrettable, however, Mr State Secretary, that the Council opposed the rapid solution called for by Parliament. We called for 30 June 2008 – entirely rightly, as a matter of fact. As you know, I represent the same country as you, and we must think about how matters can be speeded up within a federal structure. It is unacceptable that the existence of a bicameral system in Germany should render swift action impossible. I have no intention of speaking about the catalogue of fines for violations of rest periods and driving times now, but we have to think of ways to enable rapid response. The measures are undisputed. Naturally, I should have much preferred agreement on the deadline of 30 June 2008. Nevertheless, for practical reasons, we decided to compromise with you on the deadline of 31 March 2009; for, if agreement had not been reached at first reading and the matter had gone to second reading, more time would have been lost. Thus, the compromise is a very practical solution.

Finally, I should like to appeal to private enterprise not to exploit the deadline. Private enterprises can retrofit their trucks with the new mirrors early, on time and quickly, as they, too, should have a great interest in preventing accidents – not to mention accidents involving fatalities. Consequently, we hope that a consensus can be reached quickly tomorrow, that all of this is soon on the statute book, and that private enterprise is quicker to act than we have been.


  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău, în numele grupului PSE. – Postechiparea cu oglinzi retrovizoare la vehiculele grele pentru transportul de mărfuri înregistrate pe teritoriul comunităţii va contribui la creşterea siguranţei rutiere. Anual, în Uniunea Europeană, 40 000 de persoane mor în accidente de circulaţie şi această cifră reprezintă populaţia unui oraş european de mici dimensiuni. Asta înseamnă că un mic oraş european moare anual datorită accidentelor de circulaţie. Nu ne mai putem permite acest lucru. De asemenea, anual la nivel european, există 400 de victime ale accidentelor rutiere provocate de camioane de dimensiuni mari. Uniunea Europeană şi-a propus ca, până în 2010, numărul accidentelor de circulaţie să fie redus cu 50%, adică cu aproape 25 000 de victime.

Directiva 97/2003 a impus ca, începând cu 1 ianuarie 2007, toate camioanele de peste 3,5 tone să fie înmatriculate doar dacă sunt echipate cu dispozitive de vizualizare indirectă, ce reduc aşa-numitul „unghi mort” care este cauza multor accidente. Această directivă însă nu rezolvă şi problema celor aproximativ 5 milioane de camioane grele care erau deja înmatriculate în Uniunea Europeană.

Noul proiect de directivă obligă ca, până în 2009, toate camioanele grele înmatriculate după anul 2000, să fie echipate cu astfel de echipamente ce măresc câmpul vizual pe care şoferii îl au datorită oglinzilor retrovizoare. Evident, aceste dotări înseamnă investiţii, dar consider că o investiţie de aproximativ 150 de euro pentru un camion merită atunci când vorbim de salvarea de vieţi omeneşti. Nu trebuie să uităm însă că multor accidente de camion le-au căzut victimă copiii. De altfel, un studiu arată că dacă aşezăm 20 de copii în jurul unui camion care nu este dotat cu oglinzi retrovizoare corespunzătoare, în imediata vecinătate a acestuia, aceştia nu intră în câmpul vizual al şoferului şi pot fi victime ale accidentelor. Alte victime sunt bicicliştii sau pietonii aflaţi la mică înălţime întrucât aceştia intră în unghiul mort al oglinzii retrovizoare.

Consider că acest document la contribui la salvarea de vieţi omeneşti, dar nu trebuie să uităm că siguranţa circulaţiei rutiere presupune şi o infrastructură mai sigură a drumurilor, un comportament preventiv al şoferilor şi mai ales un sistem de semnalizare corespunzător.

Felicit autorul raportului şi Comisia Europeană pentru importanţa acordată subiectului. Atunci când vorbim de victime omeneşti, niciun cost nu este prea mare şi nu avem timp de pierdut.


  Marian Harkin, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Mr President, first of all, I want to congratulate the rapporteur, Paolo Costa, on his excellent and timely work on this compromise package that he has managed to achieve. His work will ensure the most rapid adoption of this proposal and that is important, because the sooner it is put in place, the more lives will be saved.

This is an example of how we can improve legislation already in place. All new HGVs must be fitted with blind-spot mirrors from 1 January of this year, but this proposal goes further and will ensure that all HGVs registered before 1 January 2000 will have to comply with the same regulation no later than 31 March 2009. Obviously, I would have preferred it if this regulation applied to all heavy goods vehicles on European roads but, by the time it comes into force, it will cover all heavy goods vehicles that are nine years old or older. That represents a large percentage of those vehicles on the roads and it will increase as each year goes by.

Equally, I would have preferred it if class 6 mirrors were included, but I believe that Commissioner Barrot has made a commitment to study further the case for the retrofitting of class 6 mirrors – at least that is what the Irish Permanent Representation tells me. Of course it is up to any individual country to enforce higher standards and any individual lorry driver or transport company can voluntarily fit these mirrors to their HGVs right now, as we speak. Indeed, as individual MEPs, I think we can try to influence haulage associations in our own home countries to retrofit their fleets as soon as possible. In the final analysis, no lorry driver wants to be involved in an accident, especially one that is avoidable.

Finally, on a personal level, I am especially pleased with this report as two years ago I put down an amendment to the Vatanen report on road safety to ask for the retrofitting of these mirrors and have continuously lobbied transport ministers, road haulage associations and the Commission to bring forward this proposal. As I said earlier, this is good legislation because it will significantly cut down on injuries to cyclists and pedestrians caused by HGVs and it will save hundreds of lives each year.




  Michael Cramer, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group.(DE) Mr President, Commission Vice-President Barrot, State Secretary Mr Daldrup, ladies and gentlemen, I should like to start by giving my sincere thanks to Mr Costa for his exemplary commitment and his excellent report. The retrofitting of this mirror on trucks could save 400 lives a year. The blind spot that has existed up to now – which could hide a whole class of schoolchildren – is vital for pedestrians and cyclists, in particular.

Parliament – particularly the major groups – disgraced itself with regard to this regulation by rejecting our amendment last year that sought to introduce this retrofitting. The Council – usually a brake pad in Europe – followed our amendment and made it possible for us to adopt the retrofitting of old trucks tomorrow. I should like to express my deep gratitude to the Council for this. Naturally we Greens would have preferred an earlier date, but we accept the compromise reached.


  Erik Meijer, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. (NL) Mr President, in 2001 and again in 2005, I put questions to the Commission to draw its attention to the inadequate protection of pedestrians and cyclists against lorries, particularly lorries that take a right corner in villages and towns.

So far, the safety measures have focused on new lorries; old lorries, though, are allowed to continue to drive without mirrors until 2023, and the latest techniques in the field of mirrors and sound equipment do not have to be applied either.

Only the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark have taken their own measures that are advanced compared to European solutions, while Germany – a much bigger country – decided to adopt a ‘wait-and-see’ approach. Due to the increasing number of lorries on our roads, every delay represents an ever greater risk for traffic safety.

Today, we are finally making headway, even though this is later than my group thought possible. On account of this unnecessary delay, my group has refused to sign the compromise amendments, although we are pleased that this compromise makes unnecessary a second reading, which would have resulted in further delays. If the proposed measures prove to be inadequate still, then they will need to be amended promptly in future.


  Dieter-Lebrecht Koch (PPE-DE).(DE) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, just a few weeks ago I took part once more in one of Germany’s regular round tables for long-distance truck drivers. As a result, I learned of a great many expectations these drivers have in terms of their ideas with regard to a) a functioning internal market and b) an improvement in road safety.

My impression was that our long-distance truck drivers are more reliant on Europe than the average EU citizen. Bus and truck drivers are constantly at pains to drive without accident – for which I should like to take this opportunity to thank them. To enable them to do so, however, they need – among other things – the opportunity to survey developments affecting their vehicles. What this means is that we must provide them – by law, if need be – with the technical capabilities enabling considerate driving. This is exactly what we mean to achieve with the Directive currently under discussion.

It is good that it has been compulsory since January 2007 for all new heavy goods vehicles to be equipped with lateral blind spot mirrors. It would be an illusion to believe that this blind spot can be completely eliminated with mirrors alone, however; and so I would caution against a new-found exaggerated sense of security, particularly in pedestrians, cyclists and wheelchair users.

Drivers of new and older vehicles alike should have the right and opportunity to use these mirrors. In this respect, the retrofitting obligation is long overdue. It will hopefully enter into force on 31 March 2009, which means that approximately 800 more people will lose their lives in the meantime, on account of our permitting such a long transitional period. Perhaps, however, hauliers, too, will take the initiative and, rather than waiting until the deadline, will retrofit their vehicles fully in line with the European Road Safety Charter far in advance of the entry into force of the Directive. I should like to pay tribute to all of them already for their act of social responsibility.


  Zita Gurmai (PSE) . – (HU) Making it mandatory to equip heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) with blind-spot mirrors is part of the Community transport strategy aimed at increasing the safety of transport for European citizens and first and foremost at protecting our lives.

The protection of human life and the safety of transport are fundamental considerations. As a result of inadequate rear-view mirrors more than 400 lives are lost in the Union each year – as my colleague has stated – not to mention the numbers of injured. As a result of this measure several hundred people’s lives could be saved annually, and for this reason we must take action. There are two basic problems that need to be resolved. The first is to achieve 100% visibility. The other is that old and outdated HGVs should be retrofitted with suitable mirrors, or else replaced by new vehicles. This is of fundamental importance to the 12, where a transitional period is needed, because the immediate introduction of the measures required by the directive would impose a heavy financial burden on our hauliers.

I consider it important that the scope of the measures intended to prevent accidents resulting from the blind spot on the passenger side of HGVs should be extended to the majority of HGVs. In the interest of success and effectiveness, we need to implement the measures with moderate flexibility within realistic time frames, bearing in mind the technical possibilities and circumstances. We also need to ensure that the potential market-distorting effects of the measures are avoided.

Thank you to our committee chair and rapporteur for his work; I am pleased that our amendments have also been accepted.


  Engelbert Lütke Daldrup, President-in-Office of the Council. (DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the discussion has shown that all speakers share a concern about road safety. I am obliged to the House for its support, and also for the common decision to set the legislative procedure in motion quickly at first reading. It is in the interests of all of us to make the new road-safety measures on truck mirrors law as quickly as possible.


  Jacques Barrot, Vice-President of the Commission. (FR) Mr President, I should like warmly to thank Mr Costa, who has played a decisive role in achieving this adoption at first reading. As he said, losing time meant losing human lives. I am grateful to Mr Costa, and also to Parliament, which has allowed the timescale for implementing the measure to be reduced. I would echo what Mr Jarzembowski has said and add that there is nothing to prevent some hauliers from taking the initiative and fitting these mirrors. I think that it is worth doing so in order to avoid casualties.

I would like to say to Mrs Harkin that the Commission will, of course, take into account the studies currently under way on Class VI mirrors. We must see exactly whether or not the use of these Class VI mirrors is effective.

I must also thank the German Presidency for having, for its part, sought this conciliation. It is in fact very important, since it will allow us rapidly to implement these new provisions.


  President. The debate is closed.

The vote will take place tomorrow.

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