European Roadside Proposals Explained
The European Commission is considering a proposal that would require the United Kingdom – and other member states – to adopt a standard set of road signs. Why? Because in the future most new cars will have a camera that scans the road ahead for signs. When the system spots one it will compare the shape, colour and font to a database. It might then conclude that the speed limit is thirty miles per-hour and display this information on the dashboard as a reference for the driver. Some of today's cars already have this technology. As such, a standard set of signs could make such systems easier to develop and more reliable. There are, after all, different “stop” sign for the United Kingdom, Greece, The Netherlands and Poland, etc. Signs with other common meanings such as “give way” vary too. Naturally, reliability will be even more important when self-driving cars that have to interpret these signs become mainstream. There are also proposals to standardise the lines that define the road edge to help self-driving cars steer. These proposals –- that if implemented could make the roads safer but cost tens of millions of pounds – come via the European Road Assessment Programme and EuroNCAP.
About European Road Assessment Programme and EuroNCAP
The European Road Assessment Programme is a non-profit organisation that works to save lives by making the roads safer. It was conceived in the late nineties and is now a force in thirty countries such as the United Kingdom, Sweden, Italy and Iceland. Members include motoring organisations, national/regional road authorities, research institutions and elected experts. Typical tasks include promoting the independent safety assessment of public roads, promoting their safe use through education plus conceiving and encouraging programmes which improve safety. EuroNCAP, in contrast, provides consumers with realistic and independent new vehicle safety assessments. Within this remit, it performs a series of crash tests then rates overall performance from one to five stars. Cars also earn percentage scores for specific categories: adult occupant protection, child occupant protection and pedestrian protection. There is also a safety assist category that assesses systems that – among other things – help prevent accidents such as electronic stability programs. These use sensors to make cornering safer by preventing over-steer, etc. Typical tests include a front impact, pole side impact and car-to-car side impact. The results help motorists compare vehicles and make informed buying decisions.