Do the new Member States have special needs when it comes to ITS deployment?
Zita Gurmai: As an MEP from a new Member State I know that new Member States require special ITS solutions and special measures to help the deployment of ITS solutions that are already available. Even though there are huge differences between individual countries regarding necessary infrastructure upgrades and the current level of ITS deployment all new Member States are facing a common challenge: the number of road fatalities is still disproportionally high. This is not acceptable.

How can the “Intelligent Car” help to save lives? And when will it be on the road?
ZG: As the Rapporteur on the Intelligent Car Communication I’m convinced that intelligent vehicle systems can help to reduce the number of road fatalities which is not only a goal of the White Paper on Transport Policy but is also our common obligation and need. It is true that the number of road fatalities has decreased but we are still far from our goal: the 50% reduction.
Approximatively 4000 lives each year on Europe’s roads could be saved if all cars had ESC. eCall could save up to 2500 lives every year in Europe. The technologies are available and are being tested. A Memorandum of Understanding on eCall has been signed by most Member States. Now it is time to roll out the system. We cannot leave this potential untapped! In all of Europe including the new Member States.

How do you expect the Czech Presidency to drive ITS deployment forward?
ZG: I’m particularly happy that the Czech Presidency is standing with us in our fight to improve road safety in Europe. Mr. Emanuel Sip Deputy Minister of Transport of the Czech Republic has been discussing with us today and has shared highly interesting facts and figures on ITS deployment on Czech motorways. Personally I am glad to learn that rapid ITS deployment is an issue high on the agenda of the Presidency and that they are committed to pushing for the ITS Action Plan.

With the financial and economic crisis can we still afford new “gadgets” for our cars?

ZG: In today’s world where we must face up to the financial crisis – and the automotive sector is particularly shaken by this –  we must bear in mind that apart from the positive effects that ITS has on road safety and pollution ITS can also contribute to the automotive industry’s competitiveness. Investing in ITS is investing in the future of the European economy. Having said this affordability is important; consumers will only buy new technologies if they can be made available for a reasonable price.

Finally even in economically difficult times we cannot afford to risk the lives of our citizens. If we have appropriate and effective technologies to make our roads safer we should deploy them via an effective partnership between the public and the private sector. Each and every life counts.

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Original Publication Date: Sat 24 Jul 2010