Skip to main content
European Commission logo

Exploratory Study on the Potential Socio-Economic Impact of the Introduction of Intelligent Safety Systems in Road Vehicles

European Union
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Connected and automated transport (CAT)
Transport mode
Road icon
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues,
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

Transport is a key element of modern economies. Due to an increasing demand for transport services, the European Union is in need of an efficient transport system, and has to address the problematic issues raised by transport congestion; the harmful effects to the environment and public health; and the heavy toll of road accidents. The costs of accidents and fatalities are estimated to be 2 % of the yearly Gross Domestic Product throughout the EU (e-safety 2004).

In recent years, the number of traffic accidents and fatalities has been decreasing. There is convincing evidence that the use of new technologies contributed significantly to this reduction in the number of fatalities and injuries. For this reason the eSafety initiative aims to accelerate the development, deployment, and use of Intelligent Safety Systems. Intelligent safety systems for road vehicles are systems and smart technologies for crash avoidance, injury prevention, and upgrading of road holding and crash-worthiness of cars and commercial vehicles enabled by modern IT.

Since the late 1980's, there have been a large number of studies dealing with the impact of Intelligent Traffic Systems on road safety. The development of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems and further Intelligent Road Safety Systems has raised the question of their potential impact. Several projects funded by EU Member States or the European Commission, and studies by the automotive industry and equipment suppliers have already provided some data on their impact. However, a systematic assessment and coherent analysis of the potential socio-economic impact of Intelligent Road Safety Systems is not yet available.

Such an analysis is further complicated by the fact that many systems are not yet widely deployed. Governments, as well as marketing departments in the automotive industry, face the dilemma of deciding upon new technologies respective of new developmental paths before reliable data can exist. For this reason, it is essential to evaluate the safety impact of new technologies before they are marketed. Being aware of methodological problems, it is necessary to provide a basis for rational and convincing decisions. Therefore the eSafety initiative, as well as the European Commission, promote the creation of a sound data base and decision support methodology.


The EU Commission initiated an exploratory study in order to:

  • provide a survey of current approaches to assess the impact of new safety functions; 
  • develop a methodology to assess the potential impact of intelligent safety systems;
  • provide figures for the estimation of the socio-economic benefits resulting from the application of Intelligent Road safety systems.

These elements, such as reduced journey times, reduced congestion, reduced infrastructure and operating costs, lessened environmental impact, reduced medical care costs, and other improvements would be the basis of a qualified monetary assessment.

The objective of this study was to provide the methodological basis for an assessment of the socio-economic impact. The suggested methodology should be exemplarily tested in order to explore the attainable socio-economic benefits of intelligent safety systems. Socio-economic impact was considered in a broader perspective that includes private rentability aspects, and the wider economic benefit (employment and distributional effects). Regarding the problem of identifying measures for assessment of the socio-economic impact of intelligent safety systems, a number of indicators were developed:

  • Safety: Typical measures of effectiveness used to quantify safety performance included overall accident rates, the accident fatality rate, the accident injury rate, and health care costs.
  • Mobility: Improving journey times by reducing delays were a significant benefit of improved road safety. Delay caused by a system was typically measured in seconds or minutes of delay per vehicle. The delay for users of the system might be measured in person-hours.
  • Efficiency: The through output was defined as the number of people, goods, or vehicles that traverse a road section per unit time. Other measurements were the capacity in effect.
  • Energy and Environment: Assessing the impact of improved road safety on the environment was a difficult task, due to regional environmental effects that depended on a large number of exogenous variables like weather, ozone pollution, and similar elements. However, decreasing pollution of CO, NOx or HC, reduced fuel use or an increase of fuel economy were established measures for improved environmental protection.

The study took these indicators into consideration and has applied them, where appropriate. Finally, the findings were discussed in accompanying workshops with


In order to assess the socio-economic impact of intelligent safety systems, it was necessary to define which safety technologies would be taken into consideration and assess the market deployment. Only then was it possible to reflect on the affect to traffic that is the basis for the socio-economic benefits of intelligent safety systems.

The technology work package provided a short description of intelligent safety systems and discussed their potential impact on road safety. It is necessary to consider safety functions interdependencies, and their combined potential influence on road safety. New Technologies can for example contribute to an increase of accidents due to driver distraction or a reduction of the traffic flow.

The market work package proposed a model describing the diffusion of intelligent safety systems. The target figure was the rate of equipment with intelligent safety systems at a given date. In order to obtain this figure, it was necessary to determine a large number of influencing elements that indicate the market potential and potential user acceptance.

Apart from that, the project performed an analysis of the traffic conditions that result from the market introduction of intelligent safety systems. This work package required data covering the latest available traffic forecasts in the member states of the European Union (e.g. traffic development, accidents). The outcome of the model was a methodology to assess the impact of intelligent safety systems for different stakeholders.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Commission
Type of funding
Public (EU)


The study analysed the socio-economic effects of intelligent safety systems in road vehicles. Intelligent safety systems are promising instruments that can reduce the number of accidents and their severity. These systems are already showing remarkable results. The study delivered an overview of safety-based systems, characterised the markets, identified key variables, and developed methods for the assessment of socio-economic impact.

Technical Implications

The project has developed and demonstrated very promising strategies and paradigms which support the deployment of both: a) full closed-loop DCS technology, and b) x-by-wire subsystems and larger integrated systems.

Some of the noteworthy outputs of the SPARC project included:

  • The Integration of new and innovative hardware and software subsystems e.g. x-by-wire.
  • A layered open software architecture which incorporates redundancy management.
  • A number of technology demonstration vehicles based on the ACTROS and SMART platforms.
  • Validation of the concepts within the SPARC project. As part of the final reviewing process several of the concepts and systems developed within the SPARC project were demonstrated. The demonstrations involving the prototype vehicles: ACTROS (HGV with/without tailor) and the SMART (sPC coupe), and included emergency braking, Lane detection and co-pilot Operation.

Policy implications

In particular, the project:

  • provided a survey of current approaches to assess the impact of new safety functions.
  • developed a methodology to assess the potential impact of intelligent safety systems in Europe.
  • provided criterion for estimating the socio-economic benefits resulting from the application of Intelligent Road safety systems. These factors, such as improved journey times, reduced congestion, infrastructure and operating costs, environmental impacts, medical care costs etc., will be the basis for a qualified monetary assessment.
  • developed a framework for exploring market deployment scenarios. It provides well justified estimates of expected benefits and costs for these scenarios, considers the relevant parameters for estimating the socio-economic impact and the methodology developed.



Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


Contribute! Submit your project

Do you wish to submit a project or a programme? Head over to the Contribute page, login and follow the process!