In an open letter, several associations are calling for the closure of a loophole in vehicle type approval in the European Union that allows "thousands of new pickup trucks from the US to enter the EU" and circumvent European safety and environmental regulations.
The seven associations warning about the vehicles from the USA include the European Cyclists' Federation (ECF), the International Pedestrian Federation and the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC). They warn of a "dramatic increase" in imports of large pick-up trucks into the EU, which would be introduced via the "Individual Vehicle Authorization" (IVA). The use of the IVA for so-called off-road vehicles rose from 2,900 new registrations in 2019 to 6,800 in 2022. The online magazine “Politico” first reported.
EU type-approval rules set out the process for certifying that a vehicle meets safety and environmental standards. However, car dealers can also import cars from outside the EU that do not have type approval for sale on the EU market by going through an IVA procedure.
However, the authors of the open letter to the EU Commission warn that the IVA is a loophole as there is no upper limit on the number of such vehicles. The associations fear that this would also circumvent environmental standards such as air quality regulations. Security is also not guaranteed.
"These vehicles are not suitable for use in Europe. With a front end that is often higher than a ten-year-old child, they are not only dangerous, but also have very poor direct visibility," says the letter sent to Thierry Breton , EU Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, and other EU Commissioners. The pick-up driver's view of other road users is poor, and children in particular directly in front of the vehicle are difficult to see.
In addition, pick-ups are more difficult to maneuver and "demonstrably injure other road users in accidents to a shockingly higher extent than normal cars." The number of fatal accidents involving pedestrians in the USA has increased in recent years. The letter's authors link this to the "tremendous increase" in sales of large pickup trucks and SUVs.
"The EU does not provide any loopholes for the import of North American foods that do not meet EU standards, such as chlorinated chicken or hormone-contaminated beef. There is no justification for vehicles that do not meet EU safety and environmental standards to be brought in the EU may be imported," criticize the authors.
In fact, a study by the Belgian road safety institute Vias has shown that the occupants of pickup trucks have a lower risk of being seriously or fatally injured than the occupants of a normal car. Other road users also have a higher risk of being seriously or fatally injured by a pickup truck to be fatally injured than by a car.
Specifically in numbers: The risk of being seriously injured falls by 65 percent for the occupants of a pickup truck, while it increases by 50 percent for the occupants of a car that is involved in an accident with such a vehicle. For a pedestrian or cyclist hit by a pickup truck, the risk of serious injury increases by 90 percent and the risk of fatal injury increases by almost 200 percent. For the study, Vias analyzed accidents between 2017 and 2021.
The US Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) also concluded in a study that SUVs, pickup trucks, vans and minivans collide with pedestrians when turning significantly more often than other vehicles. This suggests that these larger vehicles may not provide drivers with a good view of people.
"It is possible that the size, shape or position of the A-pillars that support the roof on either side of the windshield make it difficult for drivers of these larger vehicles to see pedestrians when turning," said Wen Hu, senior transportation engineer at the IIHS.
The authors of the letter to the EU Commissioners conclude by calling for a uniform safety and environmental standard for the entire EU market - without back doors for unsuitable and unsafe vehicles. "We urge you to take the necessary measures to ensure that all vehicles entering the EU new vehicle market comply with all relevant legislation.
Sources: Open Letter, Vias, IIHS, "Politico", Tüv-Nord