Road safety progress in the European Union has stagnated for the last four years, according to a new report from the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC).
The organisation has called on Governments to take urgent measures and make substantial investments in safe infrastructure to reduce the 500 deaths that occur on EU roads every single week, which it says is equivalent to two typical passenger airliners crashing and killing everyone on board.
The latest Road Safety Performance Index report shows that EU Member States are struggling to make a breakthrough: 25,250 people lost their lives on EU roads in 2017. Although road deaths declined by 2% last year, they have decreased by just 3% over four whole years since 2013, which is substantially short of the decrease of 6.7% needed annually to meet the EU target of cutting road deaths by half over the decade to 2020. Estonia and Greece are so far the only EU countries that look on course to meet this target, says ETSC.
On a more positive note, the European Commission has recently announced a major new package of road safety legislation that could prevent more than 2,000 deaths a year by the end of the next decade thanks to tougher vehicle and infrastructure standards. But EU Member States and the European Parliament still need to approve the proposals, and a range of more immediate measures will be needed to make significant progress in the near future.
“If two passenger planes fell out of the sky every week in Europe, the public and political response would be transformational,” commented Antonio Avenoso, Executive Director of the ETSC. “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.”
“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,” he added.
Road safety organisation Brake has highlighted that the UK is one of the EU countries making slow progress in reducing road deaths, according to the ETSC’s report.
The number of deaths on UK roads apparently fell by just 6.4% between 2010 and 2017, contributing little towards the collective EU target of a 50% reduction in road deaths by 2020. Whilst the UK does have a strong road safety record, the only other EU countries making slower progress on road safety are Sweden, The Netherlands and Malta.
The report also highlights how the UK is one of the few EU countries to see the number of serious Injuries from crashes on the roads increase since 2010, with a 5.8% rise.
“We take for granted that the UK has some of the safest roads in the EU but this report should act as a wake-up call to the Government,” said Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake. “All road crashes are preventable tragedies and even one death or injury on the road is one too many. Progress on road safety in the UK has stagnated in recent years and urgent action is required to remedy this.”
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