Thursday, 21 April 2016

UN General Assembly resolution backs consumers’ right to safe vehicles

As a new UN resolution backs consumers’ rights to safe vehicles, Consumers International’s Director General Amanda Long outlines why urgent action to implement and enforce the resolution is vital to help stop the loss of life on our roads.

Consumers now have the weight of a formal United Nations General Assembly resolution behind them in their demand for safer cars. This is incredibly valuable as it provides a moral catalyst to car manufacturers and governments to improve vehicle safety standards throughout the world by 2020.

The resolution, adopted on April 15, is the strongest-ever United Nations commitment on road safety and is a significant milestone in the bid to curb the number of people killed and injured on our roads. The resolution puts consumer organisations in a stronger position to push for immediate action, holding government and manufacturers accountable to the standards.

This resolution comes at the mid-way point in the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011-2020) and supports the ambitious road safety targets now included in the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. It sets a benchmark for safety standards by inviting Member States to adopt policies and measures to implement United Nations vehicle safety regulations or equivalent national standards to ensure that all new motor vehicles, meet applicable minimum regulations for occupant and other road users protection, with seat belts, air bags and active safety systems fitted as standard.

The Global Status Report on Road Safety, 2015 demonstrates the scale of the problem; noting only 40 countries require new vehicles to meet all seven priority safety regulations. ­­­

A safer future on the road for consumers

Safer vehicles are urgently needed in low and middle income countries, where consumers suffer from a dangerous double standards approach to safety. It is in these countries where 90% of the road traffic deaths occur, although they have only half of the world’s vehicles.

Major manufacturers continue to produce and sell millions of unsafe cars into weakly regulated low and middle income markets, such as Latin America and India, while simultaneously producing much safer cars for countries with high mandatory safety standards. This is despite costing as little as US $200 to install basic safety features such as air bags and strengthened bodywork.  This can no longer continue, and now the UN has made it clear in its resolution that Member States agree.

Image from Global Status Report on Road Safety, 2015

The right to safety is a fundamental consumer right. Governments should immediately introduce the UN mandated safety regulations and car manufacturers should voluntarily adopt them.

This would mean that consumers could be confident that any new car purchased globally will provide at least a minimum degree of protection. It would also ensure that the most unsafe cars, which score zero stars in NCAP tests (which test new cars for crash worthiness), are no longer being produced and sold to consumers.

Consumers International and its Members will continue to urge governments and producers to improve car safety.  For more information on our Global Car Safety Campaign, visit our website.

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