Motor manufacturers and the European Commission are meeting tomorrow in the hope of reaching a negotiated agreement to help reduce the number of pedestrians killed in vehicle collisions.
Car industry representatives will go to the meeting in the hope that it can be allowed to operate on a voluntary - or negotiated - agreement which would bring results in improving vehicle design by 2005 - three years earlier than any European directive.
And the commission believes that by asking the motor industry to set up its own system for manufacturing safer car fronts, road safety improvements could be reached quicker than through a binding directive with technical requirements that would take years to be implemented and might be overtaken by technical developments.
However, if the industry fails to come up with a satisfactory solution by June, the commission will put forward a directive instead.
An SMMT said: "The motor industry is aware that concerns have been raised about voluntary agreements. But, unlike unweildy and time consuming directives, there is clear evidence that non-regulatory frameworks can and do deliver on their aims."
One such initiative was the introduction of environmental labels for cars, detailing emissions, fuel consumption and noise levels.