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Continued Fall in Number of EU Road Traffic Fatalities

There has been a fall of around 2% in the number of people losing their lives on EU roads in 2017, according to preliminary statistics released by the European Commission. This is apparently the second year in a row to see a fall in fatality numbers. 

EU Statistics

The statistics reveal that in 2017, 25,300 people were fatally injured in road traffic accidents in 2017, which is 300 fewer than in 2016 (-2%) and 6,200 fewer than in 2010 (-20%). 

The figures have also revealed that another 135,000 people were seriously injured last year, including a large proportion of vulnerable users: pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. 

The progress made by the EU in reducing road traffic fatalities over past decades has been mainly the result of decisive action taken at local, national and EU level. However, the Commission highlights that progress rate has more recently slowed down. After two years of stagnation (2014 and 2015), the number of road fatalities was reduced by 2% in 2016, and by another 2% in 2017. 

More Action Required

However, while this trend is encouraging, much more improvement is still required before the EU can achieve its objective of halving road fatalities between 2010 and 2020. 

The Commission has called on all relevant parties to do more to make European roads safer. While national and local authorities deliver most of the day-to-day actions, such as enforcement and awareness-raising, the Commission says it is currently working on a series of concrete measures to spur further substantial progress. 

"25,300 people lost their lives on our roads last year, and many more were left with life-changing injuries,” commented Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc. “Behind these figures are as many stories of grief and pain. Road safety is of course a responsibility shared with the Member States, but I believe that the EU can do more to better protect Europeans. The Commission is currently working on a series of concrete measures that we plan to announce in the coming weeks. The ambition is clear: saving more lives on our roads."  

According to the Commission’s figures, Europe’s roads are amongst the safest in the world. Within the EU, Sweden (25 deaths per million inhabitants), the UK (27), the Netherlands (31) and Denmark (32) reported the best records in 2017. Compared to 2016, Estonia and Slovenia reported the largest drop in fatalities with respectively -32% and -20%.

In addition, the performance gap between Member States further narrowed in 2017, with only two Member States recording a fatality rate higher than 80 deaths per million inhabitants (Romania and Bulgaria).

Future Developments

Building on the Ministerial Declaration on Road Safety from March 2017, the Commission is currently working on a new road safety framework for 2020-2030, together with a series of concrete measures contributing to safer roads. This could include a revision of the European rules on vehicle safety, on infrastructure safety management and an initiative for the safe transition to cooperative, connected and autonomous mobility.

These measures are apparently due to be presented by the Commission in the next few months.

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