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European road transport research advisory council European road transport 2020: a vision and strategic research agenda (ERTRAC)

Final Report Summary - ERTRAC (European Road Transport Research Advisory Council, European Road Transport 2020: A Vision and Strategic Research Agenda)

The 'European Road Transport Research Advisory Council' (ERTRAC) moved forward in a multi-stakeholder effort to implement an integrated Strategic Research Agenda in Road Transport Research. Due to the complexity of the issues and the number of stakeholders involved with road transport, ERTRAC has structured the discussion and development of the ERTRAC Vision for 2020 and Strategic Research Agenda around four pillars:
- Mobility, Transport and Infrastructure
- Environment, Energy and Resources
- Safety and Security
- Design and Production Systems
Envisioning Europe in 2020 from the threshold of this new millennium has made us keenly aware of both the hopes for our new and expanding European Community and the challenges confronting our society and environment. Road transport is woven throughout these hopes and challenges. It links us to each other, to our schools, employment and leisure activities. Freight transport is the lifeblood of our economy. The road transport industry provides employment across several sectors, and it is a source of both new technologies and manufacturing innovation. However, road transport also faces unprecedented challenges as demands for both personal mobility and goods transport continue to grow. At the same time, preservation of our natural environment is a growing challenge, energy supply is of heightened concern, and global competitive pressures demand ever increasing efficiencies.

Mobility, Transport and Infrastructure considers two fundamental aspects of the road sector and objectives of the European Union: the need to provide for unhindered movement of people and the transport of goods. Within the context of ERTRAC, this section of the SRA considers basic factors for the provision of those needs. There are clear synergies with the other pillars of ERTRAC. Whereas, Safety & Security and Environment, Energy & Resources focus on those two important social needs, and Design & Production focuses on the competitiveness of industry, this section deals with the overarching issues of the basic demand for road transport, the developing needs of society and the essential aspects of managing one of Europe's greatest assets - its road network.

Road transport safety has improved significantly over the last three decades as indicated by an 80% reduction in fatality risk per distance travelled and a 50% reduction of the total number of fatalities in the EU. This exponential decrease is projected to continue as new safety measures and technologies penetrate the market, but nevertheless the current situation with roughly 40,000 road users killed and 1.7 million injured on European roads requires further efforts.

To structure the research theme "Safety and Security" it has been divided into three key research areas
- Accident Prevention
-Accident Impact Mitigation
- Road Transport Systems Security

In the past decades, public health concerns were raised over emissions from road vehicles and their impact on air quality. Today, emissions from new vehicles are a small fraction of what they were 20 years ago, and fleet emissions are reducing substantially as older vehicles are replaced. Although some concerns remain, for example particulate and NOx emissions, it is a realistic expectation that by 2020, pollutant emissions from road vehicles including two-wheelers will be near zero with no negative impact on air quality. One remaining task may be to manage local urban emission spots, including the remaining small fraction of 'high emitting' vehicles.
The European Union has agreed to the Kyoto Protocol target to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 8% in the period 2008-2012 versus the 1990 baseline. In the area of transport, the Commission has set a target of 20% substitution by alternative road fuels by 2020, driven by concerns over energy security and GHG emissions. Some of these topics, especially GHG emissions, must be treated as global issues.
In order to provide a meaningful framework, the Research Area Descriptions are structured to support two core goals:=
- Reduced GHG Emissions and More Efficient Energy Use
- Environment, including Impact on Communities and Natural Habitats
Each of these goals is then addressed through a set of technology-based objectives. The GHG goal has such a wide scope that strategic analysis will also be required to select the set of solutions which are most acceptable from technical, economic and social perspectives.

Whereas the first three pillars (Mobility, Transport & Infrastructure, Environment, Energy & Resources and Safety & Security) define what technologies should be addressed to improve sustainability and quality of life, the Design & Production Systems chapter addresses European competitiveness. Design & Production Systems requires a global approach to design, in parallel with enabling technologies and materials considering scope and timing.
The research themes associated with the Design and Production chapter have been organised around three central themes:
- Time to Market / Implementation
- Flexible Production Systems
- Lifetime Resource Use

The wide spectrum of new technologies that has been presented in this SRA promises many innovative solutions necessary for achieving the Vision 2020. It is an exciting and challenging research agenda which requires the talents and dedication of men and women in companies, universities and research centres all over Europe. It also requires a sustained investment from the research to the implementation phase from both the public and private sectors.
Although ERTRAC's focus is research, it is not possible to achieve the Vision and the implementation phase without considering the constraints and factors for ultimate success. If the research results are to be exploited fully, then it is necessary to mention some of the constraints and success factors that need to be considered in parallel by actors outside of the research arena.
A best-in-class workforce of scientists, engineers and technicians motivated by the challenges of interesting careers and opportunities for mobility is fundamental to successful research programs.
Due to its life cycle and the heavy investment required, significant changes to the road transport infrastructure are slow. Therefore, land use and transportation planning needs to be integrated at local, national and international levels irrespective of borders. Maintenance, renewal and new construction projects need to make the best use of developing, innovative technologies and best practices to offer greater levels of service while providing opportunities for future upgrades.
Consistent and implemented standards are needed throughout Europe for a wide range of issues, be they accident prevention and mitigation, design and production, maintenance, new fuels and powertrain technologies, data bases, communication technologies, etc.
The existing legal framework must be adapted to open doors to new public-private partnerships, new services and new technologies.
People and society will need to be open to new solutions to mobility issues. However, all of the new services and nearly all of the new technologies depend on customer acceptance. Affordability and appropriate design are crucial. Neither engineers nor policy makers should forget that it is ultimately the customer who determines the value of the service or technology.
Research is essential for finding and proposing new solutions for developing a sustainable road transport sector. Technology alone will not provide all of the answers. All of us, as individuals, as companies and as Public Bodies, must take responsibility for changing established practices and begin making new choices with a clear understanding of the implications of our choices.
The ERTRAC Vision for 2020 is achievable if we continue to work together for a competitive and sustainable road transport sector.