Road safety: new statistics call for fresh efforts to save lives on EU roads

The 2015 road safety statistics confirm that European roads remain the safest in the world despite a recent slowdown in reducing road fatalities.

The statistics was published yesterday (31 March) by the European Commission.

26, 000 people lost their lives on EU roads last year, 5, 500 fewer than in 2010. There is however no improvement at EU level compared to 2014. In addition, the Commission estimates that 135, 000 people were seriously injured on EU roads. The social cost (rehabilitation, healthcare, material damages, etc.) of road fatalities and injuries is estimated to be of at least €100 billion.

EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said “Every death or serious injury is one too many. We have achieved impressive results in reducing road fatalities over the last decades but the current stagnation is alarming. If Europe is to reach its objective of halving road fatalities by 2020, much more needs to be done.

She invited Member States to step up efforts in terms of enforcement and campaigning. “This may have a cost, but it is nothing compared to the €100 billion social cost of road fatalities and injuries.”

The average EU fatality rate for 2015 was 51.5 road deaths per 1 million inhabitants, similar to the past two years. This slowdown, which follows a significant reduction of 8% in 2012 and 2013, has several contributing factors, such as a higher interaction between unprotected and motorised road users in our cities.

Vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists, etc.) also account for a large proportion of the 135 000 people the Commission estimates were injured. This is the first time the Commission publishes such a figure, as EU Member States have started to report comparable and reliable data on serious road traffic injuries. This is also the first step towards a European approach to serious injuries.

The country-specific statistics reveal that the number of road fatalities still varies greatly across the EU, though this gap is becoming smaller every year. The average reduction over the years 2010-2015 was 17 %.

Some traditionally well-performing countries recorded less progress while three of the Member States with the highest number of road deaths improved their road safety situation.

Improving EU road safety

In order to reach the EU strategic target of halving the number of road deaths from 2010 to 2020, the European Commission states that additional efforts are needed. Member States are the main actors as most of the day-to-day actions are delivered at national and local level: enforcement of traffic rules, infrastructure development and maintenance but also education and awareness raising campaigns.

The European Commission acts where there is a clear EU added-value, for instance through legislation enabling the enforcement of cross-border traffic offences or by setting technical safety standards for infrastructure and vehicles.

Technological breakthroughs in the last decade have greatly improved vehicle safety. The Commission aims to develop a master plan on the deployment of cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) – a two-way communication between vehicles, with and between road infrastructure – in the second half of 2016. Such systems allow vehicles to warn each other directly (e.g. in case of emergency breaking) or through the infrastructure (e.g. upcoming road works).

The Brussels Times (Source: European Commission)

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