Anne Jensen MEP is the Parliament’s rapporteur on the ITS Action Plan and the accompanying Directive. She talks to ERTICO about the challenges of ITS deployment and the solutions proposed in her report on the ITS Action Plan.

ERTICO-ITS Europe: The ITS community has invested heavily in developing and deploying Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) and the EU has supported many research projects on ITS. As a result many of these systems are now mature and close to market introduction. Based on this background what is the added value of an ITS Action Plan?

Anne Jensen: The uptake of ITS in road transport has been rather slow. The purpose of the ITS Action Plan is to speed up the deployment of ITS in Europe. The Action Plan will provide a much needed policy instrument to complement the work that other initiatives such as the Intelligent Car Initiative and the eSafety Forum have been doing. Moreover the ITS Action Plan aims to move forward ITS not only for safer transport but also promotes the use of ITS systems and services for cleaner more efficient and more secure transport solutions. The EU has a clear role to play in creating the right framework conditions for accelerated and coordinated deployment of ITS. Europe has to implement a political framework which ensures that systems and services are interoperable and function seamlessly throughout of Europe. Europe should support the development of a large range of harmonised ITS systems and services and should encourage and enable their deployment in the Member States. The ITS Action plan is the motivator and the ITS Directive is the necessary organisational framework for this to happen. To give a concrete example the provision of accurate and reliable real-time traffic and travel information is crucial for many ITS applications. Most of this data was traditionally provided by public authorities but there is a strong trend towards the private sector providing these services. It is essential that this information is validated and made available to all players on a fair and equitable basis to ensure safe and orderly management of traffic. To achieve this EU wide rules and procedures need to be set up for data collection update and validation. This optimisation of road traffic and travel data is only one example of the six Action Areas which have been identified to remove existing barriers to ITS deployment. ERTICO-ITS Europe: When it comes to getting ITS on the road we currently have a patchwork of national regional and local solutions. Will the ITS Action Plan and the accompanying Directive be a silver bullet to solve this issue? Anne Jensen: The Action Plan proposes strong European coordination of Intelligent Transport Systems and services in various Member States.  It should build upon existing work in the ITS field and not impose new solutions on Member States. However because of the fragmentation of ITS it is necessary to harmonise and synchronise the work done across Europe to secure future interoperability geographical continuity of services and systems and standardisation. ERTICO-ITS Europe:  Do you believe that the “machine” can take over the responsibility of the driver? Anne Jensen: It is true that there has been some discussions if ITS could ‘take over’ from the driver. We are talking here about in-vehicle systems such as lane departure warning and emergency breaking systems. These systems are designed to intervene in very clear cases to avoid accidents. My opinion and position is that ITS systems and services should not take over the “job” of the driver but rather assist the driver who remains in full control of his/her actions. ITS systems and services enable the individual driver to make better informed safer more coordinated and more ‘intelligent’ decisions or ‘smarter’ use of the road network. A political discussion on automated driving seems to me premature. ERTICO-ITS Europe: Regarding the timetable do you think your report will make it through Parliament before the elections in June? Anne Jensen: Yes we are working according to the timetable. Hopefully the ITS Action Plan and the directive will be adopted in the Transport (TRAN) committee by the end of March and voted by the European Parliament at the plenary session in April. We are seeking a large majority for the two reports in order to send a strong signal to the European Council to opt for a first reading agreement.

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Original Publication Date: Sat 24 Jul 2010