A conference to mark annual European Road Safety Day will be held on Monday 6 May 2013 in Brussels. The theme will be "Pedestrian safety: vulnerable road users in urban areas".
On 28 March 2013, the Irish Road Safety Authority organised an international road safety conference as one of the Irish EU Presidency events. Some 300 participants – international road safety experts, NGOs, police officers, representatives from Member State transport ministries and other stakeholders – participated in the full day conference in Dublin.
Vice-President of the European Commission, Mr Siim Kallas delivered the introductory key-note speech on the topic of serious road traffic injuries. Mr Kallas presented the most recent EU road safety statistics and a newly released Commission document on serious road traffic injuries. The announcement that the European Commission has taken the first steps towards a broader focus on both fatalities and serious injuries was warmly welcomed by the other conference speakers.
The Irish Minister of Transport, Mr Leo Varadkar, presented the new Irish road safety strategy called "Closing the Gap". The strategy covers the period 2013-2020 and focuses on new measures to reduce the number and severity of serious injuries arising from road collisions. The target of the Irish national road safety strategy is to reduce the number of road deaths to 124 and serious injuries to 330 per year by 2020. The new strategy will be based on the Safe Systems approach and it was announced that enforcement and vulnerable road users were among the particular focus areas. The Irish national road safety strategy is a good example of a strategy providing many best practices and key elements of road safety planning, an area currently being analysed by the European Commission.
Introductory remarks were also made by Mr Gay Byrne, Chairman of the Road Safety Authority, Dr Maria Segui, Spanish Dirección General de Tráfico and Ms Rachel Nolan, former Minister for Transport in the region of Queensland, Australia. Ms Siobhán O'Brien, who had suffered a brain injury in a car crash, told the conference how this changed her life in a strong and personal intervention.
During the first panel, speakers provided specific information about measures and approaches to reduce the number and severity of traffic accidents. Mr Szabolcs Schmidt, Head of the European Commission road safety unit, made an in-depth presentation of the Commission's road safety work. This was followed by interventions by Mr Antonio Avenoso, the European Transport Safety Council, Professor Fred Wegman, the SWOV Institute for Road Safety Research and Ms Maggie Martin, Irish road safety research consultant.
In the closing session specific information on the organisation of health services, enforcement efforts and emergency response in Ireland was provided by Dr Deirdre Mulholland, Dr Cathal O'Donnell, Dr Áine Carroll and Chief Superintendent Mr Aidan Reid of the An Garda Síochána. Ms Olga Sehnalova, Member of the European Parliament, concluded by insisting on the need of continued EU work on the serious injuries, stressing especially the need for Member States to start reporting data in line with the new definition, thus allowing the setting of ambitious targets at the earliest possible time. Dr James Reilly, Irish Minister for Health held a closing address.
The conference organisers also arranged demonstrations of road safety equipment and an exhibition of road safety stakeholders, where also the European Commission participated with an information stand, demonstrating the use of the new CARE Viewer inter-active tool and responding to meeting participants' questions on road safety in the EU.
For more information, see also the Irish Road Safety Authority website.