The EU renews its target to cut annual death rate by half.
In 2009, 35 000 people died in road accidents across the EU – 36% less than in 2001, when the commission first set its target of cutting the annual death rate by 50%. Young people and motorcyclists are among those most at risk.
Speeding, driving after drinking alcohol and not wearing a seatbelt are some of the leading causes of road deaths. But unsafe vehicles and poorly maintained roads also pose unnecessary risks. The new EU programme addresses all these issues.
Over the next 10 years:
• new rules will come into force requiring more vehicles to be equipped with automatic warning systems, including for speeding or leaving a lane.
• EU funding will only go to road-building projects that comply with EU road safety laws.
• the EU will work with national authorities to devise a common education and training strategy for road users.
• more effort will be made to make motorcyclists safer. Recent years have seen a drop in road deaths for all modes of transport except this category. Every year, some 17% of fatalities involve motorbike or moped riders even though they make up just 2% of road users.
According to a recent EU-wide survey, Europeans think more should be done to reduce accidents. Most people surveyed thought government action should focus on improving roads and enforcing traffic laws.
Only four countries – Latvia, Spain, Estonia and Portugal - have managed to reduce their annual road death toll by 50% compared with 2001. The number of fatalities has increased in Romania and Malta.
The UK, the Netherlands and Sweden had the lowest death tolls in 2009. Greece and Romania had the highest.