Figures released this week by the European Commission show deaths on the EU’s roads have barely decreased in the last year.
The Commission’s 2018 road safety report found that the 25,100 road deaths in the EU in 2018 represented a decrease of 21 per cent in comparison to 2017, but only a one per cent decrease since 2017; meaning the EU is potentially unlikely to reach its goal of halving road fatalities by 2020. The report noted, however, that the data show European roads to be the safest in the world, with an average across the bloc of 49 road deaths per one million residents.
Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: “While I of course welcome any reduction in road traffic fatality figures, even a single road death is unacceptable. We have been assertive and ambitious in tackling road safety, adopting a strategic action plan, concrete actions on vehicle and infrastructure safety, and a policy framework for the next decade. As we continue to work towards ‘Vision Zero’ – [the EU’s goal of] zero road deaths by 2050 – we are committed to working with all Member States, as well as the Parliament and road safety community, to provide a level of safety that EU citizens demand and deserve.”
The UK, Denmark and Ireland recorded the fewest road deaths as a percentage of their populations, with the UK experiencing 28 deaths on the road for every one million inhabitants, Denmark 30 deaths per million; and Ireland 31 per million. Romania had the worst road safety results, with 96 deaths per million inhabitants. The data analysed in the 2018 road safety report showed disproportionately high deaths among vulnerable road users – pedestrians, the elderly, motorcyclists and cyclists – and the Commission noted that, as the population ages and citizens move towards active and sustainable forms of transport, these groups would require “particular attention” in road safety regulations.
Antonio Avenoso, Executive Director of the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), said: “It’s very disappointing that road deaths in the EU hardly declined in 2018. This is now the fifth year in a row that hardly any progress has been made. However, there are reasons to be optimistic for the future. In recent weeks, the EU has finalised two important pieces of road safety legislation: updated minimum safety standards for new vehicles and a significant expansion of the scope for rules on infrastructure safety management…Tackling road safety issues can lead to controversy, which social media now has a tendency to magnify and distort. But the deaths of 70 people every day or 500 people every week on EU roads cannot be ignored. It is not fake news. And that’s especially true for the thousands of families, friends and co-workers affected by road deaths and serious injuries. The issue must be given the political priority it deserves.”
The EU has implemented a range of measures to promote road safety across Member States, including deploying technological solutions such as Intelligent Speed Assistance to keep vehicles below the speed limit; Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems which allow transport infrastructure to share information on traffic issues with drivers; and the EU Road Safety Exchange, enabling Member States to pool information on road safety improvement.