NEW EUROPEAN crash barrier standards will put lives at risk by encouraging the spread of concrete walls beside high speed roads and along central reservations, opponents to the plan warned this week.
Concrete barriers are claimed to be more likely to cause serious injuries to occupants of vehicles which crash into them.
At issue are changes to European standards governing crash barriers to include a more rigid form of barrier.
Official appeals from Spain, Switzerland and Portugal, backed in principle by Italy and the Netherlands, could delay fi nal approvals for another year.
France, Germany and Britain support the new category.
At the moment, crash barriers considered acceptable under European standards are classed as category A or category B.
Category A barriers must allow moderate deceleration of crash vehicles, while category B barriers are for higher deceleration.
The proposed new category C caters for higher deceleration than category B.
though the category does not specifi ally refer to materials used, it is understood by many to make some forms of low deformation concrete barriers acceptable.
The European Road Federation said the new class would be 'beyond the limits that are humanly acceptable for deceleration'.
A spokesman said it could have a major impact on injury levels in single vehicle accidents which cause 14,000 deaths each year in Europe.