Zero road fatalities in Flanders by 2050 will be ‘huge challenge’

Zero road fatalities in Flanders by 2050 will be ‘huge challenge’
Credit: Belga

Flanders has never achieved the goals it sets for reducing the number of traffic deaths and serious injuries, which is why reducing the number of deaths on its roads to zero by 2050 will be a huge challenge, the Court of Audit said.

Last year, Belgium’s three regional governments launched a national plan for road safety which aims to eliminate all traffic-related deaths by 2050, an initiative dubbed “Vision Zero by 2050.” Although the region has been working to improve its road safety policy in successive policy plans and has reduced the number of road fatalities, this goal remains a big challenge, the court stated.

“In 2000, 871 people were killed and 6,334 injured on Flemish roads. By 2020, those figures fell to 254 fatalities and 2,048 seriously injured, but achieving the ultimate goal of Vision Zero by 2050 will be a major challenge,” a report read.

Tackling dangerous areas

According to the Court of Audit, the various road safety plans were drawn up without evaluating the previous plans, or whether their objectives were achieved, which they never were.

It conducted research into the approach to dangerous spots in Flanders — crossings and other areas where many accidents take place — in the context of improved traffic safety, which is how the government aims to get rid of all fatal road accidents by 2050, and find that it was failing to achieve this goal already.

In 2002, the government launched a programme to address 800 dangerous points over five years with a budget of €500 million, however, this will “only be fully implemented 22 years after its launch at a cost of about one billion euros.”

In 2018, it added a new approach to fixing these danger zones by drawing up a dynamic list of dangerous points each year and working with quick solutions to tackle the issue faster.

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This project is still ongoing, however, during the entire implementation period, the government did “little monitoring and evaluation, so there is no certainty about the value for money,” the court stated.

Lydia Peeters, Flemish Minister of Mobility and Public Works, agreed with the conclusions of the Court of Audit, but defended the dynamic operation and the policy choice for quick wins, adding that she is committed to thoroughly evaluating both the historical programme and the dynamic operation as suggested by the court.

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