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The European Union is teaming up with car manufacturers to promote automotive accident-avoidance technologies.

The eSafety Aware initiative aims to improve awareness of intelligent vehicle systems and their road safety benefits through various promotion campaigns. It wants to encourage motorists to look for technologies that have the potential to minimise the risk of car accidents, but for which public awareness is generally low.

"We have for a long time emphasised the importance of user awareness in the take-up of the new car safety technologies," EU commissioner for information society and media Viviane Reding said. "Now we have concrete evidence that users' knowledge of new technologies needs improving. This is why I welcome the launch of this new platform for promoting user awareness."

eSafety Aware is to be chaired by the Foundation of the International Automobile Federation (FIA). The scheme has 26 founding members representing automotive suppliers, automotive clubs, road safety authorities, road operators, insurance industry, and service providers.

The European Commission is participating in the program as an observer. The eSafety Aware fits in with the Commission's wider intelligent car initiative, which aims to promote the development and adoption of new technologies to make cars safer, cleaner and more efficient.

The first public awareness campaign in the eSafety Aware program will be on Electronic Stability Control (ESC), a technology which is reckoned to reduce accident risk by 20 per cent, due to launch in April 2007. Further campaigns will cover technologies such as in-vehicle emergency call, eCall.

"Intelligent vehicle systems can make a major contribution in solving our most pertinent transport problem, namely road safety, where Europe still has more than 41,000 deaths per year," FIA chairman Rosario Alessi said. The annual cost of fatal accidents in Europe is estimated at €50bn, with accidents reckoned to cost around €40.5bn.

"It is our job to get these [accident-avoidance] systems to the users as quickly as possible. This is why FIA Foundation has taken the lead in the new platform for promoting user awareness," Alessi added. "These systems save lives, but you need to know they exist to ask for them." ®

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