World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations

Detlef Alwes, an engineer from Germany, suggested to me that the U.S. should discuss underride protection with the World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations. I had never heard of it before. Apparently, the U.S. has not had much involvement with it in the past–at least not as far as underride protection.

But doesn’t it make sense to collaborate with other countries and come up with the safest possible vehicle regulations?

Most countries, even if not formally participating in the 1958 agreement, recognise the UN Regulations and either mirror the UN Regulations’ content in their own national requirements, or permit the import, registration, and use of UN type-approved vehicles, or both. The United States and Canada are the two significant exceptions; their UN regulations are generally not recognised and UN-compliant vehicles and equipment are not authorised for import, sale, or use in the US, unless they are tested to be compliant with US car safety laws, or for limited non driving use (e.g. car show displays).[4]

“The World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations is a working party (WP.29)[1] of the Inland Transport Division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). It is tasked with creating a uniform system of regulations, called UN Regulations, for vehicle design to facilitate international trade.

WP.29 was established on June 1952 as “Working party of experts on technical requirement of vehicles”; the current name was adopted in 2000.

The forum works on regulations covering vehicle safety, environmental protection, energy efficiency and theft-resistance.”  World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations

Other links:

Negotiated Rulemaking

One thought on “World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations

  1. The United States has been involved with WP.29 since its inception; however, the Forum originally focused on developing standards for Europe. It has only been a truly global effort since the late 1990’s. The US (NHTSA and the EPA) has been a major contributor to international research and development efforts, but when it comes to specific regulations, the US legal system operates under different principles from Europe.

    The US was the first nation to set up a regulatory system for vehicle safety. Ralph Nader and others saw the issue as one of consumer protection and product liability while Europe later addressed safety more as an engineering and product certification issue. As a result, we have two main approaches (self-certification and type approval) and there are two international agreements (1958 and 1998) to allow for uniform regulations. Under the 1998 Agreement, WP.29 establishes Global Technical Regulations (GTR) that can be used under any system. (UN Regulations can only be used under a type approval system.) So at the international level, a state-of-the-art standard for rear underrun protection would involve looking at the current regulations in use around the world to see if the harmonization of requirements through a GTR would be practicable and beneficial.

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