In 2010, the European Union renewed its commitment to improve road safety by setting a target of reducing road deaths by 50% by 2020, compared to 2010 levels. This target followed an earlier target set in 2001 to halve the number of road deaths by 2010. A new target to halve road deaths by 2030 compared to 2020 levels was announced by the European Commission on 17 May 2018.
25,250 people lost their lives on EU roads in 2017, representing a 2% reduction on the 2016 figure. This number has fallen by only 3% in the last four years.
Out of the 32 countries monitored by the PIN Programme, 22 reduced road deaths in 2017. The best results were achieved by Estonia with a 32% decrease, Luxembourg with 22%, Norway with 21% and Slovenia with 20%. Road deaths increased in eight countries, while progress stagnated in Slovakia and Lithuania.
There has been progress over a longer period but it is not enough to meet the 2020 target. Since 2010, EU countries achieved an overall reduction in road deaths of 20%, which equals a 3.1% annual average reduction. A 6.7% year-to-year reduction was needed over the 2010-2020 period to reach the 2020 target through constant progress in annual percentage terms. This reduction was not achieved, so the EU must now reduce the number of road deaths by 14.5% each year between 2018 and 2020 to be on track for the target. Time is running out; the target is now highly unlikely to be met. Strong political will and urgent measures are still needed in all EU Member States to narrow the gap between the desired and the actual EU progress. Increased traffic law enforcement and treatment of high risk sites are among the measures that can have an immediate positive road safety effect.
On 17 May, the European Commission published a Strategic Action Plan on Road Safety that includes a new long-term target to halve road deaths by 2030 as well as, for the first time, a target to reduce serious injuries by the same proportion. EU Member States called for such targets last year in the Valetta Declaration on road safety, following years of campaigning by road safety and victim groups. The Strategic Action Plan on Road Safety came as part of a large package of transport policy proposals known as the ‘Third Mobility Package’. The package includes new vehicle safety standards; updated rules on road infrastructure safety management and a strategy for automated driving. Importantly, the European Commission proposed a package of new vehicle safety standards that could, by themselves, prevent more than 2000 road deaths every year by 2032, ten years after the measures come into force. It is now up to EU Member States and the European Parliament to give their backing to the plans and not give in to pressure from car manufacturers, who are already attempting to weaken parts of the vehicle safety proposal, or from others who may oppose aspects of the package. While the EU target of halving road deaths between 2010 and 2020 is now unlikely to be met, this long-awaited impetus from the European Commission could contribute significantly to resuming improvement soon and driving progress in the next decade.
Seven PIN countries have started preparing national road safety strategies for the upcoming decade. Achieving the full potential of existing and new measures based on the safe system approach will be essential to future progress.
Main recommendations to Member States
- Seek to reach current targets by all available means, including applying proven enforcement strategies according to the EC Recommendation on Enforcement.
- Adopt and implement the safe system approach to road safety by addressing all elements of the road transport system in an integrated way and adopting shared overall responsibility and accountability between system designers and road users.
- Provide sufficient government funds to allow the target-oriented setting of measures and set up financing and incentive models for the regional and local level.
- Start preparing post 2020 Road Safety Plans, including national targets for reducing serious injuries based on the MAIS3+ standard alongside the reduction of road deaths and quantitative sub-targets based on compliance indicators.
- Use the evidence gathered to devise and update relevant policies. Make the choice of measures based on sound evaluation studies and – where applicable – consideration of cost effectiveness, while including serious injuries in the impact assessment of countermeasures.
- Support and seek to strengthen the European Commission’s proposals published on 17 May for new vehicle safety standards and updated rules on road infrastructure safety management.
Main recommendations to the European Commission
Within the context of the 5th EU Road Safety Strategy:
- Deliver the actions listed in the Strategic Action Plan on Road Safety for 2018 and 2019, e.g. agree with Member States on a list of key performance indicators to monitor progress.
- Adopt a long-term Operational Plan for 2030, including investments in measures, a timetable and structure for delivering the two targets already endorsed.
Within the context of the EU strategy on automated mobility:
- Develop a coherent and comprehensive EU regulatory framework for the safe deployment of automated vehicles.
- Revise type approval standards to cover all the new safety functions of automated vehicles, to the extent that an automated vehicle will pass a comprehensive test equivalent to a ‘driving test’. This should take into account high risk scenarios for occupants and road users outside the vehicle.
Main recommendation to the Council and the European Parliament
Within the context of the revision of Regulation 2009/661 concerning Type-Approval Requirements for the General Safety of Motor Vehicles and the revision of the Road Safety Management Directive 2008/96:
- Support and seek to strengthen the European Commission’s proposals published on 17 May 2018 for new vehicle safety standards and updated rules on road infrastructure safety management.