EU is working on the next generation of vehicle safety standards

Road deaths fell by a negligible 1% in the EU last year according to new data released by the European Commission. Road safety campaigners say the “drastic” slowdown in progress puts at risk the EU target of halving road deaths by 2020.

According to the figures released on Tuesday, the number of road fatalities has decreased by approximately 1% compared to 2013.

This follows on the 8% decrease in 2012 and 2013. The figures reveal a total of 25,700 road deaths in 2014 across all 28 member states of the EU.

Whilst this is 5,700 fewer than in 2010, it falls short of the intended target decrease set by the EU.

The average EU fatality rate for 2014 is expected to be 51 road deaths per million inhabitants.

Malta, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK continue to report the lowest road fatality rates, with less than 30 deaths per million inhabitants.

Four countries still report fatality rates above 90 dead per million inhabitants: Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania.

Commenting on the figures, Violeta Bulc, EU Commissioner for Transport said, “It’s sad and hard to accept that almost 70 Europeans die on our roads every day, with many more being seriously injured.”

“The figures published today should be a wake-up call. Behind the figures and statistics there are grieving spouses, parents, children, siblings, colleagues and friends.

“They also remind us that road safety requires constant attention and further efforts.” She added: “We need to step up our work for the coming years, to reach the intended EU target of halving the number of road deaths by 2020.”

The official added, “Let’s work together to make sure more people come home safely at the end of their journey. This is one of my priorities and should be one of the priorities of all governments in all the member states.”

Further reaction came from Antonio Avenoso, Executive Director of the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), who said, “While there is no single factor that explains today’s deeply worrying figures there is no doubt that in recent years, the EU and many member states have shifted road safety way down the priority list.

“If you cut back on police enforcement and road maintenance, if you don’t do enough to protect the increasing numbers of people walking and cycling, and if you ignore new trends such as distraction – it’s obvious that the numbers dying will not just stagnate, they will start to increase.”

“We need to see short and medium term action from national governments and from the EU, starting today. Member states can boost police enforcement and that will have an immediate effect. The EU can start by extending its infrastructure safety rules that require regular audits and action on high risk sites. Currently these rules only apply to major EU motorways – but they should be extended to the entire road network.”

“Looking ahead, this year the EU is working on the next generation of vehicle safety standards.”

He continued, “We need to ensure that the technology with the most life saving potential is fitted to all vehicles as standard and not just the premium end of the market. Technologies such as Automated Emergency Braking and Intelligent Speed Assistance and getting seat belt reminders on all seats could revolutionise vehicle safety. Europe must lead that revolution, not rest on the laurels of past achievements.”

By Martin Banks

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