What does EU road safety policy look like?


For years, the European Union has had ambitious road safety strategies and targets to reduce the number of road deaths and serious injuries on European roads in co-operation with the member states. To achieve this, the EU uses the Safe System approach which integrates the different elements of the traffic sytem, and which takes human vulnerability and falability into account (see SWOV fact sheet Sustainable Road Safety). An overview of relevant European policy documents can be found at: ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/home_nl

For 2021-2030, and for 2050, the European Commission  has defined concrete safety targets once again [28] [29]:

  • A 50% reduction of the number of road deaths between 2021 and 2030.
  • A 50% reduction of the number of serious road injuries (according to the jointly accepted new definition; see the question To what extent are international data comparable and reliable?) between 2021 and 2030.
  • Closest possible approximation of zero road deaths in 2050.

Previous European targets also aimed at a 50% reduction of the number of road deaths in ten years (2001-2010 [30] and 2011-2020 [31]). For the 2021-2030 period, a target for the reduction of serious road injuries has been defined for the first time. Individual member states are not obliged to adopt the European targets. They may freely define their own targets or choose not to define any targets at all.

The European targets are to be achieved by basing road safety policies on the Safe System approach, and by not only focusing on crashes and casualties but also on the major performance indicators. In the Strategic Action Plan on Road Safety (2021-2030, Appendix 1 of [28]) the  European Commission sets out actions to realise the abovementioned targets for 2021-2030:

  1. Enhanced road safety governance, by using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and by appointing a European road safety ambassador.
  2. Stronger financial support for road safety initiatives.
  3. Safe roads and roadsides by using risk-based methods for all primary roads even when they are not part of Trans-European networks (TEN-T).
  4. Safe vehicles by making some safety features mandatory, such as Intelligent Speed Assistance and Autonomous Emergency Braking.
  5. Safe road use and behaviour, such as using seatbelts and helmets, and systems like Intelligent Speed Assistance and alcohol interlocks.
  6. Fast and effective emergency response, also focusing on eCall and the role of the health sector
  7. Future-proofing road safety in view of i.a. smart mobility, cyber-security and automated vehicles in mixed traffic, also taking into account vulnerable road users.
  8. Europe’s global role and exporting road safety, particularly focusing on the neighbouring Western Balkan countries, the Eastern Partnership, and Turkey.
Part of fact sheet

Dutch road safety in an international perspective

This fact sheet considers road safety in the Netherlands from an international perspective.

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