Many people sustain serious injuries in road traffic crashes every year, with lifelong consequences both for the victims and their families. Apart from the human suffering, these injuries have a big impact on society as a whole, and the economic cost is also high. The European Commission has put a new focus on reducing serious injuries.
To highlight the importance of reducing the risk of serious injuries, we estimate that for every person who dies on the roads, about five more are seriously injured. Furthermore, the majority of people seriously injured on Europe’s roads are vulnerable road users. Their proportion is even higher in towns and cities. Protecting them is a priority.
In 2014, EU countries started collecting data using a new, common definition of 'serious road injuries'. This new standard definition is based on a scale commonly used by medical professionals. To produce comparable findings, EU governments can collate information from police and hospital records, use only hospital records, or use police records but correct the figures by an algorithm to allow for under-reporting. The new methodology has already proved to yield more reliable and comparable data than the old reporting system.
The new data is important in two ways. In the longer term, the Commission will be able to monitor and benchmark Member State performance. Also, the new data shows that fatal crashes and crashes resulting in serious injury have slightly different characteristics. This will help to see where more work is needed, such as on safety for vulnerable road users or safety in urban areas.
In October 2015, the Commission launched a study to analyse crashes causing serious injury in order to identify a number of most common crash scenarios with serious injuries as an outcome. Results should be available by November 2016.