The Commission has adopted an ambitious Road Safety Programme which aims to cut road deaths in Europe in half in the next decade. The programme sets out a mix of initiatives, at European and national level, focussing on improving vehicle safety, the safety of infrastructure and road users' behaviour.
- Road Safety is a major societal issue. In 2009, more than 35,000 people died on the roads of the European Union, i.e. the equivalent of a medium town.
- For every death on Europe's roads there are an estimated
four permanently disabling injuries such as damage to the brain or spinal cord, 10 serious injuries and 40 minor injuries.
- The estimated economic cost to society is 130 Billion Euro a year.
The Road Safety Programme (2011-2020) in detail
There are Seven Strategic Objectives
1. Improved Safety Measures for Vehicles
Much work has already been done in the period 2001-2010 with regard to "passive" safety devices for vehicles such as seatbelts and airbags. Between 2011-2020 a range of new "active safety" measures will come into force for safety equipment including:
- Mandatory electronic stability control (for cars, buses and trucks to reduce the risk of destabilising or rolling)
- Mandatory lane departure warning systems (for trucks and buses)
- Mandatory automatic emergency braking systems (for trucks and buses)
- Mandatory seat belt reminders (cars and trucks)
- Mandatory speed limiters for light commercial vehicles/vans (already in place for trucks)
- For electric vehicles, the Commission will bring forward a package of concrete measures setting technical standards for safety.
- The Commission will examine the possibility of extending the implementation of advanced Driver Assistance Systems, such as anti- collision warnings by retrofitting them to commercial and or private vehicles
- Since 2003, EU legislation has been strengthened to reduce injury risk for vulnerable groups such as pedestrians, cyclists e.g. through mandating energy absorbing car fronts and, blind spot mirrors. Further technical actions in this area will need to be examined.
Safety of vehicles on the road – roadworthiness tests
- The Commission will strengthen EU legislation on roadworthiness tests with a view to establishing mutual recognition of roadworthiness inspections so checks in one Member State will be recognised in another.
2. Building safer road infrastructure
- European funds will only be granted to infrastructure compliant with road safety and tunnel safety Directives. This is already the case for TEN-T funding, the Commission wants to extend it as a general principle for any EU funding, for example cohesion funding.
- Examine extending the principles of existing EU legislation on infrastructure safety management to rural roads of Member States. This legislation requires that safety requirements be taken into account the planning process, pre-design and design stage when infrastructure is being developed. It also requires safety audits for infrastructure, identification of black spots and inspections. Extending these principles to rural roads could be done on the basis of exchange of best practice by Member States.
3. Boost Smart Technology
- The Commission will propose new technical specifications, under the ITS Directive (Intelligent Transport Systems Directive) so that data and information can be easily exchanged between vehicles and between vehicles and infrastructure (for example to enable real time information on speed limits, on traffic flows, congestion, pedestrian recognition.)
- The Commission will accelerate the deployment of e-call as well as examine its extension to motorcyclists, heavy duty trucks and buses.
4. Strengthening education and training for road users
The road user is the first link in the safety chain and the one most prone to error. Whatever the technical measures in place, the effectiveness of road safety policy depends ultimately on users' behaviour. Education, training, and enforcement are essential.
The Commission will work with Member States to develop a common education and training road safety strategy. At EU level this will include, as a priority, strengthening the quality of the licensing and training system, notably by widening the EU Driving Licence Directive, to establish:
- Minimum criteria for driving instructors
- The integration of accompanied driving/apprenticeship in the pre-licensing period (i.e establishing with minimum age, experience and conditions for countries which chose to use this system).
- Examining the possibility to introduce probation periods after the driving test (where tighter controls apply for newly licensed drivers)
- Examine the possibility of introducing eco-driving into theoretical and practical tests for safer, clean driving.
5. Better enforcement
Effectiveness of road safety policies largely depends on the intensity of controls and compliance with safety requirements. Enforcement remains a key factor in creating the conditions for a considerable reduction in the number of deaths and injuries. Speeding, drink driving and failure to wear a seatbelt are still considered the three main killers on the road. Measures to strengthen EU wide and national enforcement controls will include:
- The development by Member States of national implementation plans (e.g. targets as regards priority issues and the intensity of controls at national level).
- EU wide awareness campaigns
- For drink driving, penalties should be accompanied by preventative measures. For example, the Commission will consider legislative measures to require mandatory use of alco-locks for specific professional cases, such as school buses, or in the framework of rehabilitation programmes (for professional and non-professional drivers) after drink driving offences.
- The biggest cross-border driving offence is still speeding. The Commission will prioritise the adoption of legally binding measures on the cross border exchange of information in the field of road safety (2008 proposed Directive) to allow for the identification and sanctioning of foreign offenders for seatbelts, speed, alcohol and traffic light offences.
6. Establishing a Road Injuries Target
Reducing the number of injuries will be a key priority action for Europe for the next decade. The Commission will develop the elements of a comprehensive strategy of action concerning road injuries and first aid, including:
- Establishing common definitions of serious and minor injuries to define targets with a view to then establishing common EU wide injuries target to integrate into 2010-2020 Road Safety Guidelines.
- Promote exchange of best practices between Member States on emergency service response to accidents, as well as establishing EU wide data collection and analysis on injuries.
- Examine the added value of developing and installing event data recorders (‘black boxes’), in particular on professional vehicles, to improve technical investigations and analysis of accidents.
7. A new focus on Motorcyclists
The Commission will focus particularly on motorcycles and other "powered two wheelers." (PTW) While other vehicle transport modes have shown significant decreases in fatalities and serious injuries over time, those for PTW riders have exhibited much lower decreases or remained even static.
At European level measures for powered two wheelers will be proposed:
- to introduce a number of functional vehicle safety measures like e.g. mandatory fitting of Advanced Brake Systems, Automatic Headlamp On and updated anti-tampering measures (so speed controls cannot be removed) for certain categories of PTWs
- to develop technical
standards on protective equipment such as
clothing, and to study the feasibility of
equipping motorcycles with an airbag and/or
including the airbag in the protective
- to extend EU legislation on road worthiness testing/inspections to motorbikes and other powered two wheelers (which does not exist at the moment)
Road safety action programme 2001-2010
Although the ambitious target set in 2001 to halve the number of fatalities by 2010 has not been completely met, significant progress has been made. For example, the number of fatalities is expected to fall by more than 40% (compared to a 25% drop in the preceding decade). It also brought down the average level of road deaths per one million inhabitants from 113 in 2001 to 69 in 2009 for all current 27 Member States. This is close to the level of the best-performing Member States in 2001 (the UK, Sweden and The Netherlands with respectively 61, 62 and 66 deaths per one million inhabitants). The Road Safety Action Plan (2001-2010) was a strong catalyst for EU and national efforts to improve road safety.