Vehicle manufacturers will be required to introduce new bumper and bonnet designs to reduce the risk of serious injury in collisions with pedestrians and cyclists, the European Commission announced yesterday (Thursday 20 - 2), dashing manufacturers' hopes that a voluntary deal would suffice.

A proposed directive calls for measures which will "significantly reduce the severity of injury to pedestrians involved in accidents with motor vehicles at speeds up to 40 kph, which are typical in an urban environment where most accidents involving pedestrians occur," according to a Commission memorandum.

It estimated that up to 2000 fatalities could be prevented by such measures. The tests will be applied to new types of vehicles from 2005, to be followed by more exacting pass requirements from 2010. The Commission acknowledged that the European, Japanese and Korean motor industries, covering over 99 per cent of cars and small vans sold in Europe, had accepted the safety commitments on a voluntary basis, but noted that the European Parliament had called for a legally binding directive on the subject.