Road safety concerns all citizens, and all have a role to play in making roads safer. Although the action taken so far has been effective, but the numbers of road fatalities remain unacceptably high in the European Union: 1.3 million road accidents a year cause 43 000 deaths and 1.7 million injuries. Road users’ behaviour is acknowledged as the primary cause of mortality: speeding, consumption of alcohol or drugs, tiredness, not wearing seat belts or protective helmets, etc.
This issue is receiving growing attention throughout the EU. An ambitious target has been proposed: reducing the number of road fatalities by 50% by 2010 compared with 2001. To achieve this target a systematic approach is needed.
The European Road Safety Action Programme identifies some major areas of activity: encouraging road users to adopt more responsible behaviour (better compliance with the existing rules, coupled with greater enforcement to curb dangerous behaviour), making vehicles safer by supporting technical advances, improving road infrastructure using information and communication technology.
Other major planned initiatives include the collection and analysis of data on physical injuries caused by road accidents and research, aiming to find the optimum solutions. To succeed, it is important that responsibilities be shared among the parties involved (Member States, regional and local authorities, industry, transport companies and private users). The Action Programme proposes that all the parties concerned subscribe to a European Road Safety Charter.