Tuesday, June 19, 2018

European Union Moves on Road Safety for Cars as Well as Buses and Trucks

25,000 Deaths Annually Bring Calls for Immediate Action
Shipping News Feature
EUROPE – Despite cutting the number of road fatalities in the EU by more than 50% since 2001, figures from a new report from the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) show that road safety progress in the European Union has stagnated for the last four years. The latest ETSC Road Safety Performance Index (PIN) report shows that EU Member States are struggling to make a breakthrough: 25,250 people lost their lives on EU roads in 2017 and, although road deaths declined by 2% last year, they have decreased by just 3% over four whole years since 2013. Antonio Avenoso, Executive Director ETSC, commented:

“If two passenger planes fell out of the sky every week in Europe, the public and political response would be transformational. And improvements in aviation safety in Europe over the last fifty years have been just that. We now need a matching system-wide approach to road safety.

“Last month, the European Commission announced bold measures to save lives on European roads with safer vehicles and safer infrastructure. But these measures need political support from Member States to avoid being watered down and they will take time. Governments across the EU must also up their game in months, not years, with better enforcement and urgent measures to reduce the main causes of death and serious injury, namely speeding, drink driving, distraction and failure to wear a seatbelt.”

Whilst legislation in the UK has of late concentrated on improved safety standards for trucks and buses these are included in the EU directive proposing, along with advanced emergency braking, lane-keeping assist systems, drowsiness detection technology, the eventual acceptance of the need for alcolock systems to prevent drink driving. The full list of proposals, which were published in May, can be seen here.

The new proposals were announced as a third and final set of actions by the Junker administration, the ‘Third Mobility Package’ aimed at modernising the EU transport system by way of better safety, more environmentally acceptable vehicles and the adoption of technology to connect and automate road users, thus assisting with the safety issue, 90% of accidents being caused by human error according to the EU’s Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Elżbieta Bieńkowska.

The ETSC points out however that these are only proposals and will require approval of member states and strongly suggests that a range of more immediate measures will be needed to make significant progress in the near future. In the meantime, and for the first time in the 12 years since ETSC launched its PIN programme (financed by Toyota Motor Europe, Volvo Group, the Swedish Transport Administration, the German Road Safety Council and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration) the organisation will not make its annual award for progress and leadership on road safety to any country.

Photo: 259 vehicles were involved in this pile up on a German Autobahn, with a reputed clean-up cost of €2.5 million.