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Rear-view mirrors and supplementary devices for indirect vision (until 2014)

The European Union intends to improve the safety of road users by reducing "blind spots". New provisions concerning the installation of more effective rear-view mirrors and/or the accelerated introduction of new technologies will enlarge the field of indirect vision of drivers of passenger cars, buses, coaches and trucks.

ACT

Directive 2003/97/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 November 2003 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the type-approval of devices for indirect vision and of vehicles equipped with these devices, amending Directive 70/156/EEC and repealing Directive 71/127/EEC [See amending acts].

SUMMARY

Serious traffic accidents often take place at crossroads, junctions and roundabouts due to drivers being unaware of the presence of other road users near their vehicles. Such accidents are more serious when heavy vehicles (trucks, buses, coaches) or vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists, moped users) are involved.

So as to prevent such accidents, the European Union has adopted measures which aim to reduce blind spots in the immediate area around vehicles.

In the light of current technology, the provisions of Directive 71/127/EEC on rear-view mirrors are no longer adequate as regards the exterior field of vision to the side, front and rear of vehicles. Directive 2003/97/EC builds on the existing provisions so as to ensure that the field of vision is extended. In particular, it amends Directive 71/127/EEC, which it will replace and repeal with effect from 26 January 2010.

Directive 2003/97/EC harmonises the provisions concerning the type-approval of devices for indirect vision and of vehicles equipped with these devices.

The new requirements introduced by the Directive principally relate to:

  • an increase in the compulsory minimum field of vision for certain vehicles;
  • the installation of supplementary devices for indirect vision in certain vehicles (e.g. front mirrors on trucks);
  • adaptations to technical progress (e.g. the curvature of the surface of rear-view mirrors);
  • the replacement of some rear-view mirrors with other indirect vision systems (e.g. camera-monitor devices).

The new rules laid down in Directive 2003/97/EC will be implemented progressively. The timetable for introducing the new requirements thus runs from 2005 to 2010.

The vehicles covered by the Directive are motor vehicles of category M (passenger vehicles) and category N (goods vehicles).

Finally, the Commission will carry out a study in 2010 to determine the impact on road safety of the measures introduced by this Directive, particularly as regards vulnerable road users. Additional legislative measures might be proposed on the basis of the conclusions of this study.

Directive 2003/97/EC participates in the efforts of the European road safety action programme to halve the number of road accident victims in the European Union by 2010 .

REFERENCES

ActEntry into force - Date of expiryDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 2003/97/EC29.1.200425.1.2005OJ L 25 of 29.1.2004

Amending act(s)Entry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 2005/27/EC19.4.200519.10.2005OJ L 81 of 30.3.2005

RELATED ACTS

Directive 2007/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 July 2007 on the retrofitting of mirrors to heavy goods vehicles registered in the Community [Official Journal L 184 of 14.07.2007].

The Directive extends the obligation to install devices for the lateral field of indirect vision to the entire existing fleet of heavy goods vehicles (vehicles of categories N2 and N3).

Directive 2003/97/EC requires new vehicles to be fitted with devices for indirect vision to reduce the blind spot, but it does not apply to vehicles already in circulation. However, it can be estimated that the entire fleet of heavy goods vehicles already in circulation will not have been fully replaced until 2023. In the interim, in order to minimise the risk to vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists) of being involved in an accident with a heavy goods vehicle performing a right turn, heavy goods vehicles already in circulation must be retrofitted with rear-view mirrors reducing the lateral blind spots while fulfilling the technical requirements of Directive 2003/97/EC.

Heavy goods vehicles of over 3.5 tonnes and registered after 1 January 2000 should thus no later than 31 March 2009 be fitted with lateral rear-view mirrors reducing the blind spot. In order to pass the compulsory annual roadworthiness test imposed by Directive 96/96/EC, heavy goods vehicles must therefore be fitted with rear-view mirrors that comply with Directive 2007/38/EC.

For the majority of vehicles, the retrofitting can be done at reasonable cost and with devices which are already available on the market. However, to ensure that the retrofitting costs are not higher than the expected benefits, exemptions are provided for vehicles used principally for their historical interest and for vehicles which are equipped with lateral mirrors whose field of vision covers only marginally less than the fields of vision laid down in Directive 2003/97/EC.

Member States must have transposed Directive 2007/38/EC by 6 August 2008. The Commission will present an evaluation report on its implementation no later than four years after the Directive has entered into force. The same safety rules may therefore be extended to vehicles that are not covered, such as light commercial vehicles or passenger buses.

Last updated: 13.08.2007
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