Posted on Jul 18, 2020
Safety experts are calling on the UK government to exclude American cars from any post-Brexit trade deal. They say imported vehicles should meet British safety standards for accidents with pedestrians, cyclists and children.
They point to a current spike of pedestrian injuries and deaths in US road accidents associated with a boom in large SUVs, which have been engineered to protect passengers but not pedestrians.
Currently, in the UK and Europe, cars are designed to minimise harm to people on foot or on bikes if they are hit by a vehicle and all vehicles sold in the UK must meet the standards.
UK PM Boris Johnson has indicated he expects cars to be included in any new transatlantic trade agreement, and the government has already said that safety standards would not be "diminished" as a result of any deal.
The Parliamentary Advisory Committee on Transport Safety has written to Trade Secretary Liz Truss, saying: “We note that in negotiations covering food safety the USA has argued against accepting higher UK standards. It has sought to characterise these as protectionism.
“We are concerned that pressure for lower safety standards will be applied in negotiations regarding the automotive sector.
“US vehicle safety standards are much lower than those permitted for vehicles sold in the UK.”
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David Ward, president of the Global New Car Assessment Programme, told BBC News: “US crash standards are much lower for pedestrians... we simply can’t let American vehicles into the UK if they don’t meet our standards.”
A Department for Transport spokeswoman told BBC News the government would decide its own safety regulations after Brexit. “Road safety or environmental standards will not be diminished as part of a free trade agreement with the USA or any other country,” she said.
The head of the UK Transport Research Laboratory, Richard Cuerden, said: “We know the PM and others have said the automotive sector is on the cards for a new trade deal after Brexit. Well, it’s fine to trade – but they have to meet our rules in this regard.”
Mr Cuerden also warned that many of the UK’s crash barriers were designed to resist a car of standard weight and height. If British drivers started to buy large US-style SUVs in big numbers, the barriers might have to be replaced.
SUV's, having a much higher centre of gravity than more conventional cars, are also prone to loss of control and rolling over when cornering at speed.
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