Transport Safety: societal challenges, research solutions

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The Italian EU Presidency, in cooperation with the European Commission, has organised a conference on transport safety with title "Transport Safety: societal challenges, research solutions", in Genoa (Italy), on 4th and 5th December 2014.

The conference will bring together all stakeholders in the topic (policy makers and professionals) to discuss some important issues relating to transport safety.

Starting from the fact that currently more carbon-free vehicles and production processes, more environmentally respectful planning, higher levels of inter-modality to reduce the carbon footprint, and other advances are being pursued in many of the research activities carried out in the transport sector, the conference organizers have observed that all these improvements can be effective and widely accepted by the population only if the level of safety – in all transport modes – is enhanced to ensure that the European transport system becomes the safest possible.

On the other hand, the European Commission has emphasized that over the past 20 years a lot has been done in the field of transport safety, and that progress is confirmed by all statistics and reports, but much still remains to be done to meet the objectives Europe has set itself to achieve in the years ahead:

  • halving road fatalities in Europe by 2030; making the European transport vehicles, in all modes, the safest in the world; offering users a safer, smoother transport experience;
  • saving billions of Euros a year on health care, property loss and insurance costs;

Therefore this conference, convened by the Italian EU Presidency, aims at gathering stakeholders, transport professionals and policy makers from the different transport modes, to assess the future needs for transport safety, and identify the priorities for activities in Horizon 2020 programme and beyond.

In addition, it is well acknowledged that safety challenges vary between different transport modes, and that specific solutions have to be targeted to the peculiar characteristics of each sector. However there are some common issues and concerns that cut across all transport modes, and where "cross-fertilisation" can effectively speed up advancement in the design and deployment of safety measures. The organizers propose, among the objectives of the Conference, the exploration of the common factors that can promote "cross-fertilization" including:

  • Human factors, such as fatigue, drowsiness, distraction and attitudes to risk;
  • Technology reliability of driver assistance, automation and accident preventive systems;
  • Risk management, training and skills development;
  • Data collection and analysis, cost/benefit assessment for preventive and mitigation measures.

The Conference will focus in particular on these aspects, taking into account societal challenges, policy requirements, technological developments and economic benefits.

The first plenary session will focus on an overview of the state-of-the-art of these issues in the different transport modes, exploring the transferability of best practice across modes, and highlight the policy drivers for innovation in the sector. The break-out sessions, organised along modal lines, will then assess the needs of each specific mode - including freight and passenger intermodal nodes - and identify future research priorities to be considered at European level.

The final plenary session will deliver a shared R&I agenda, with pointers to be taken into account in the preparation of next Horizon 2020 Work Programmes, and with a view to ensure the proper deployment and implementation of safety solutions resulting from research activities.

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