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Safety measures could push up car prices

Car prices could be forced up as a result of European proposals which would force manufacturers to fit ABS brakes and infra-red 'night vision' systems to new cars.

Proposals before European transport ministers would also introduce daytime running lights and ABS as standard, as well as banning the fitting of 'bull bars' on new vehicles by manufacturers.

Legislation is also due to be put forward to engineer 'soft' bonnets and other safety features for cars to reduce the risk of pedestrian injury, although manufacturers in the UK have won the backing of the Government to adopt a voluntary arrangement for improving safety.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said the initiatives could push up car prices, although the sheer economies of scale involved in fitting the systems to all cars would minimise any increase in costs. Swedish manufacturers Volvo and Saab have long adopted the fitting of daytime running lights, but after several years without the feature in the UK, Saab has re-introduced it for the 2002 model year.

Referring to the agreement on pedestrian safety, SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan said: "This landmark decision by the UK government presents the opportunity to deliver real benefits to pedestrians, rather than wait for lumbering legislation. The motor industry has an excellent track record in delivering on its commitments and we look forward to working together in delivering this tough assignment." (December 10, 2001)

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