In the year 2005, 41,600 people died in road traffic accidents in the European Union. Some 1.9 million people were injured, some of them severely. The economic damages generated by traffic accidents were estimated at €200 billion, corresponding to approximately 2% of the European Union’s Gross National Product.
It Will Never Happen to Me!
Over 40,000 road traffic fatalities per year – this is equivalent to over 300 fatal air crashes involving medium-range aircraft. According to statistics, one out of three people will be injured in a traffic accident at some point in their lives. Up to the age of 55, traffic accidents are the most common causes of hospitalisation. In fact, the dangers of road traffic are all-pervasive and concern everyone.
Is This the Price We Must Pay for Mobility?
The European Commission says NO! It is ambitious yet possible to halve the number of traffic deaths in the European Union between 2001 and 2010. This first step is feasible by means of implementing a number of concrete measures and joining forces. Halving the number of traffic fatalities can only be a sub-goal. But such a goal is a good way to set priorities and use them to measure the results of specific measures. And this goal also serves to mobilise all stakeholders and co-ordinate joint efforts.
A Joint Challenge
Reducing the number of traffic fatalities by half is a joint challenge. It can only be met if the European Union, its Member States, civil society organisations and, of course, all citizens get fully involved in their respective spheres of responsibility.
The European Commission, through its Road Safety Action Programme, has listed 60 specific measures, whose implementation depends on the responsibility of the European Union and its Member States. The European Road Safety Charter is an appeal to all civil society organisations to participate in this joint undertaking and implement concrete measures to meet this challenge.