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Summaries of EU Legislation

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Protection of pedestrians and other vulnerable road users

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Protection of pedestrians and other vulnerable road users

The European Union intends to reduce the number of deaths and the severity of injuries to pedestrians and cyclists involved in accidents with motor vehicles. Car manufacturers will therefore need to make changes to the fronts of their vehicles.


Directive 2003/102/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 November 2003 relating to the protection of pedestrians and other vulnerable road users before and in the event of a collision with a motor vehicle and amending Council Directive 70/156/EEC.


Around 8 000 pedestrians and cyclists are killed and a further 300 000 injured each year in road accidents.

Accidents occur particularly often in urban areas. Even when cars drive at relatively low speeds, very serious injuries can be caused by a collision with a moving vehicle, particularly in the case of impact with the frontal structure of a motor vehicle. Below 40 km/h, however, it is possible to considerably reduce the severity of injuries by modifying the fronts of motor vehicles.

The Directive sets the safety requirements which motor vehicle manufacturers will have to meet in order to reduce the severity of the injuries suffered by pedestrians and other vulnerable road users, such as cyclists and motorcyclists, when they are hit by the frontal surface of a vehicle.

The Directive is based on Article 95 of the Treaty establishing the European Community. The harmonised technical provisions for the type-approval of motor vehicles with regard to pedestrian protection are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market.


The Directive applies to the frontal surfaces of vehicles, which mainly means the bonnet and the bumper.

It applies to passenger cars (category M1 vehicles) not exceeding 2.5 tonnes and commercial vehicles (category N1 vehicles) not exceeding 2.5 tonnes and derived from M1 vehicles. There is provision for the Commission to examine the possibility of extending the scope of the directive to vehicles not exceeding 3.5 tonnes.

Safety provisions

The Directive proposes limit values to be observed in the construction of the frontal structures of vehicles. These values should not therefore be exceeded in a collision between a vehicle and a pedestrian. In order to ensure compliance, the vehicles will have to undergo a number of safety tests. These tests and limit values are based on recommendations made by the European Enhanced Vehicle-Safety Committee.

If the maximum limit values are exceeded, the Member States may no longer grant EC type-approval or register the vehicles concerned.

The technical provisions will enter into force in two stages for which the directive sets out transitional periods. The provisions for the first stage will have to be met for all new types of vehicles from 1 October 2005 and for all new vehicles from 31 December 2012. The provisions for the second stage will be compulsory as of 1 September 2010 for all new types of vehicles and from 1 September 2015 for all new vehicles. This transitional period gives manufacturers time to comply with the limit values and incorporate these changes into the construction of new types of vehicles without having to make immediate changes to vehicles already in production.

Given the speed of technological development in this field, manufacturers may develop alternative measures that are at least as effective as those in the Directive. Depending on the result of the feasibility study carried out by independent experts by 1 July 2004, the Commission may well amend the provisions of the directive.

The Commission plans to conduct an initial assessment before 1 April 2006, then every two years thereafter.

Amendment of the type-approval system

The Directive is one of the specific Directives with which compliance is necessary in order to ensure conformity with the EC type-approval procedure. Directive 70/156/EEC should therefore be amended accordingly.


The European Commission has made it a priority to reduce the number of persons killed and injured on Europe’s roads. Its target is to reduce road deaths by 50% by 2010.

With this objective in mind, the European Commission entered into discussions with European, Japanese and Korean motor vehicle manufacturers. These resulted in the industry making a pledge to introduce measures aimed at improving pedestrian safety. Following the opinion of the European Parliament and of the Council of Ministers, the Commission drew up a legal instrument establishing the main aims and basic technical provisions required to ensure the requisite legal certainty in this area.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 2003/102/EC [adoption: codecision COD/2003/0033]



OJ L 321 of 6.12.2003


Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of pedestrians and other vulnerable road users [COM(2007)560 final - Not published in the Official Journal]. The Commission proposes combining the requirements of Directive 2005/66/EC (use of frontal protection systems) and Directive 2003/102/EC (pedestrian protection) in a single regulation, in order to improve the consistency and implementation of measures to protect pedestrians and other vulnerable road users. The Commission is reviewing existing passive requirements and is combining them with an active measure involving the use of brake-assist systems such as anti-lock brake systems (ABS). This has involved discussions between the Commission and European, Japanese and Korean car manufacturers and other interested parties.

The proposed regulation lays down requirements for the manufacturing and operating of vehicles and details the obligations of manufacturers (approved braking systems, frontal protection), those of the Member State authorities (monitoring of the application of requirements, penalties) and detailed rules for implementation.

Directive 2005/66/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 2005 relating to the use of frontal protection systems on motor vehicles and amending Council Directive 70/156/EEC [Official Journal L 309 of 25.11.2005].

Commission Decision 2004/90/EC of 23 December 2003 on the technical prescriptions for the implementation of Article 3 of Directive 2003/102/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council relating to the protection of pedestrians and other vulnerable road users before and in the event of a collision with a motor vehicle and amending Directive 70/156/EEC [Official Journal L31 of 4.2.2004].

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 11 July 2010 - Pedestrian protection: Commitment by the European automobile industry [COM(2001) 389 final – Not published in the Official Journal]. The European Commission presents an evaluation of the commitment reached with the European automobile industry, represented by the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA).

Last updated: 19.05.2008