Worse still, some EU Member States, like Germany and Sweden, who have very strong safety records, now show a significant increase in deaths. In other Member States, like Poland and Belgium – already lagging behind in road safety – the number of deaths went up. The problem of motorcycles – where fatalities have still not fallen after more than a decade – still persists.
In Malta’s case, there were 41 road fatalities per million people in 2011 compared to 36 the previous year. However, these were still among the lowest in the EU, with only Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden having fewer fatalities.
Vice-President Siim Kallas, with responsibility for transport, said, "These figures are a wake-up call. This is the slowest decrease in road deaths in a decade. 85 people still die on Europe's roads every day. This is unacceptable. We will need to sharply intensify efforts at EU and national level to reach our goal of cutting road fatalities in half again by 2020. I am writing to ministers in all Member States to ask for information about national road safety enforcement plans for 2012. I want to be reassured that even in tough economic times this important work, which is so central to road safety, is not being scaled back. At EU level, I intend also to target specifically fatalities on motorcycles in 2012, we need to see the current trend reversed and these deaths start to fall."
Over the last decade, under the Road Safety Action Plan 2001-2011, major progress has been achieved. Road fatalities were cut by almost 45% and more than 125,000 lives were saved. EU road deaths decreased by an average of 6% each year. And in some years the decrease has been as much as 11% (2010).
In July 2010 the Commission adopted challenging plans to reduce the number of deaths on Europe's roads by half in the next 10 years. Initiatives proposed in the "European Road Safety Policy Orientations 2011-2020" range from setting higher standards for vehicle safety, to improving the training of road users, and increasing the enforcement of road rules. The Commission is working closely with Member States to implement this programme. The road safety action plan sets out a mix of initiatives focussing on making improvements to vehicles, infrastructure and road users' behaviour.
There are seven strategic objectives:
• Improved safety measures for trucks and cars
• Building safer roads
• Developing intelligent vehicles
• Strengthening licensing and training
• Better enforcement
• Targeting injuries
• A new focus on motorcyclists.
The work to implement the EU's Road Safety Action Plan 2011-2020 will intensify. In addition, Vice-President Kallas announced his intention to intensify efforts relating to national enforcement and to vulnerable road users using motorcycles.