Thursday, April 4, 2019

European Road Death Figures Released but Little Annual Change

UK Exemplary Compared to Other States
Shipping News Feature
EUROPE – The UK may currently be getting some heavy criticism from its (current) European partners over the Brexit debacle, but figures released by the European Commission today reveal one area in which the country excels, road safety, with the death rate on the roads standing at 28 per million population described in the report as 'excellent' and the best of all the EU states, particularly the Eastern European countries where rates of 96 and 88 in Romania and Bulgaria respectively prevail.

Despite steps taken to reduce the carnage, this year saw the introduction of the ‘EU Road Safety Exchange' aiming to develop partnerships between road safety professionals of different European countries and to address their specific road safety problems through sustained twinning activities, the gap between countries remains vast in terms of road safety.

For the future buses and lorries are to be equipped with advanced systems capable of detecting vulnerable road users. The EU claims this legislation alone could save 25,000 lives within 16 years of coming into force. 21% of all killed were pedestrians, and 8% cyclists, both particularly vulnerable groups to heavier vehicles such as HGVs.

First out of the blocks to comment on the figures was the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) which was clearly unimpressed by the lack of improvement and the tardiness of the authorities to impose significant changes to vehicles and driver behaviour. Commenting on the new figures, Antonio Avenoso, Executive Director of 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.

“But these initiatives will take time to bear fruit. It will be another five years before all new cars are required to be fitted with life-saving technology such as Automated Emergency Braking and overridable Intelligent Speed Assistance. And the required improvements to infrastructure safety will also take time to implement.

”In the meantime, EU member states will have to take bold action: increasing levels of enforcement, taking meaningful steps to address speeding, drink / drug driving and distraction and ensuring that vulnerable road users get the safe infrastructure they need, particularly in our towns and cities.

“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.”

Whilst many road haulage outfits and their industry representatives, particularly in the UK, will doubtless point out that they have been subject to a continual set of changing regulations all designed to make life safer for those they interact with, the EU authorities have talked a good game with regards to certain technologies without much discernible action.

For example with alcohol still being a major factor in many of the fatalities, as well as a host of serious injuries, we have still seen no progress in the mandatory fitting of alcohol ignition locks which prevent the use of a vehicle if the driver has been drinking, on any type of vehicle, despite calls for these over the past decade.