Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

FP6

ESCOPE — Result In Brief

Project ID: 507171
Funded under: FP6-IST
Country: Belgium

Smart vehicle communications improve road safety

In the future, cars stuck in traffic or on slippery roads will be able to communicate with others vehicles and road operators. In a bid to cut down on traffic jams and road accidents, the priority of the Escope project was to bring the benefits of eSafety to all road users.
Smart vehicle communications improve road safety
The road system network envisaged by the eSafety initiative will promote the use of ICT to ensure smarter, safer and cleaner road transport. And it comes not a moment too soon.

Europeans already spend a quarter of their driving time in traffic jams and it will get much worse before it gets better. More importantly, every year, nearly 40 000 people are killed in road accidents in the European Union and more than a 1.5 million injured. The 'road toll' statistics can be overwhelming, and may even obscure the fact that each case is a personal tragedy.

As part of the effort to accelerate the development, roll-out and use of vehicle safety systems, the European Commission funded the establishment of the 'eSafety observatory' (eScope). Its aim was to strengthen and harmonise the activities of the automotive industry working on the introduction of 'co-operative' systems for smart vehicle communications.

These intelligent systems which enable vehicles to communicate with each other and road infrastructure operators are based on wireless technology. Warning other drivers of adverse road conditions or of a crash which has just happened are just two examples of how this technology can contribute to reduce road accidents and traffic jams.

The Escope project partners worked with high-level advisers and experts as well as industry representatives from across Europe to follow the progress made on yet another eSafety solution. The pan-European in-vehicle emergency call, eCall is a system by which, after an accident, a car can automatically call the rescue services and transmit location data, reducing the response time.

In principle, the technology is available. But there are legal, budgetary and coordination problems to overcome before it can be implemented in all Member States. Discussions carried out during the Escope project made clear that although the problems differ between Member States, together they delay its implementation.

In 2006, Escope organised the launch of the 'Intelligent car initiative' at which several technologies were showcases in front of decision-makers. It also created a publicly accessible database on eSafety systems and comprehensive reports on the progress of activities contributing to the achievements of the eSafety objectives.

The first decisive steps towards meeting the European goal of road accidents seem to have been made. Still, the investment in smart vehicle communication systems by the automotive industry will need to be met by public funding in essential roadside infrastructure. Only then will the lives of European drivers be safer.

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