Roads are managed by national (or regional or local) authorities. However, the EU provides funding for better roads through its regional development funds, the European Investment Bank and trans-European networks.
Most road networks in the EU were developed from a national viewpoint. The aim of the Trans-European transport network is to build a transport network that can ease the flow of goods and people between EU countries.
The network is set to encompass 90 000 km of motorway and high-quality roads by 2020.
The EU will eventually have a role in the safety management of the roads belonging to TEN through safety audits at the design stage and regular safety inspections of the network.
It has also funded projects on inspection and audit, such as RIPCORD-ISEREST, which examined different ways for engineers to conduct road safety inspections. It resulted in recommendations for best practice in road safety inspections.
And it has devised a syllabus for training EU road safety auditors, through the EURO-AUDITS project. This training became necessary due to new EU laws requiring audits of all road networks in all EU countries, including those with little experience of such audits.
A disproportionate share of accidents occurs in tunnels. Many are old and not designed for high traffic volumes. EU law sets minimum safety requirements for tunnels, including measures to prevent them becoming death traps in an accident.
By 2019, more than 1300 km of main road tunnels will have been upgraded to meet the highest safety standards. The EU-funded SAFE-T project proposed best-practice solutions for preventing accidents in tunnels.
Accidents at level crossings deserve a specific attention. Although they account for a limited proportion of road accidents (up to 2% of the road fatalities), they account for some 30% of fatalities from the railways perspective. In most cases, the primary causation is the inappropriate behaviour of road users (bad evaluation of risk, lack of attention, and misunderstanding of road signs).