Road safety across EU improves, more efforts needed to get better
Reaching the objective of halving road fatalities between 2010 and 2020 seems challenging
12 April, 2018
Fatalities on roads across the EU have decreased in 2017 for the second year in a row, according to the preliminary road safety statistics, released last Tuesday by the Commission, the EU press service reported. Overall, 25,300 people lost their lives on EU roads in 2017, which is 300 fewer than in 2016 (-2%) and 6,200 fewer than in 2010 (-20%). While this trend is encouraging, reaching the EU objective of halving road fatalities between 2010 and 2020 seems now very challenging and difficult to reach.“25,300 people lost their lives on our roads last year, and many more were left with life-changing injuries. Behind these figures are as many stories of grief and pain. Road safety is of course a responsibility shared with the Member States, but I believe that the EU can do more to better protect Europeans. The Commission is currently working on a series of concrete measures that we plan to announce in the coming weeks to save more lives on our roads,” Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc said.According to the released data, about 135,000 people were seriously injured in road accident last year, including a large proportion of vulnerable users: pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. Besides the victims, road fatalities and injuries also affect the society as a whole, with an estimated socio-economic cost of €120bn a year. While national and local authorities deliver most of the day-to-day actions, such as enforcement and awareness-raising, the Commission is preparing proposals to spur further substantial progress.With an average of 49 road fatalities per one million inhabitants against 174 deaths per million globally, European roads remained by far the safest in the world in 2017. Within the EU, Sweden (25 deaths per million inhabitants), the UK (27), the Netherlands (31) and Denmark (32) reported the best records in 2017. Compared to 2016, Estonia and Slovenia reported the largest drop in fatalities with respectively -32% and -20%. In the period 2010-2017, Greece reported the biggest drop in road fatalities (-41%), followed by Estonia (-39%), Latvia (-38%) and Lithuania (-36%).As an overall trend, the performance gap between Member States has been narrowing year after year. Following a pronounced discrepancy in Member States' road safety records in the 1970s and 1990s, a clear convergence began in 2000. Last year, only two Member States (Romania and Bulgaria) recorded a fatality rate higher than 80 deaths per million inhabitants, against seven in 2010. In 2017, the majority of Member States had a road fatality rate below 60 deaths per million inhabitants, and eight of them stood below 40 deaths per million inhabitants.Overall, only 8% of road fatalities in 2017 occurred on motorways versus 55% on rural roads, and 37% in urban areas. In 2017, vulnerable road users accounted for almost half of the road victims. 21% of all people killed on roads were pedestrians, while 25% were two-wheelers (14% motorcyclists, 8% cyclists and 3% mopeds riders). Pedestrian and cyclist fatalities have decreased at a lower rate than other fatalities (by respectively 15% and 2% from 2010 to 2016, compared to the overall fatality decrease of 20%).Building on the Ministerial Declaration on Road Safety from March 2017, the Commission is currently working on a new road safety framework for 2020-2030, together with a series of concrete measures contributing to safer roads. This could include a revision of the European rules on vehicle safety, on infrastructure safety management and an initiative for the safe transition to cooperative, connected and autonomous mobility. The Commission is planning to present these measures in spring 2018.
Fatalities on European roads are on a steady decrease in the last decades.