2% Reduction in EU Road Casualties Not Enough for IAM

Latest news from the Institute of Advanced Motorists; The EU looks set to fail on reaching its targets to halve the numbers of those killed in road crashes by the end of the decade, with the UK one of several countries currently making no major progress into cutting the numbers of people killed on our roads, IAM RoadSmart has discovered.

In its report this week ‘Ranking EU Progress on Road Safety’ the ETSC (European Transport Safety Council: reference 1) noted there has only been a 2% decrease in the numbers of those killed in road crashes in the EU in 2017, and only two countries look set to meet the targets set by the end of the decade (Greece and Estonia).

Although progress has flattened in the past four years, the report credits the fact there were 6,350 fewer deaths in 2017 compared to 2010 in EU countries, and a huge 54% drop in fatalities since 2001. Norway and Sweden are the safest countries for road users in Europe.

Some 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.

The ETSC has recommended to member states a number of proposals to ensure countries make forward progress, including an integrated road transport policy involving road planners and users, and funding at national and local levels.

Across EU countries, Estonia leads with a 32% reduction in the number of road deaths between 2016 and 2017. It’s followed by Luxembourg with a 22% decrease, Norway with 21% and Slovenia with 20%.

The report said: “The UK, Sweden and the Netherlands have achieved the slowest progress in further reducing road deaths since 2010.”

The UK has gone from 1,905 killed on roads in 2010 to 1,854 in 2014 to an estimated 1,783 in 2017 – a fall of 6.4%.

Since 2015 Estonia has been advocating and promoting ‘Vision Zero’ and shared responsibility among stakeholders. Local authorities are increasingly involved in road safety management. A combination of road safety measures, including traffic law enforcement, high-risk site treatment, road network safety analysis and public safety campaigns are at the core of Estonia’s recent road safety policy.

Norway (not in the EU) has achieved an astounding 49% decrease in road fatalities between 2010 and 2017.

In Norway investment in safe infrastructure including construction of new four lane motorways and installing median barriers on new and existing roads with high traffic volume have all contributed to the positive results.

To address the over-representation of young drivers in road collisions, the driver education and training system was improved and a speed campaign targeting young male drivers was launched. The number of young road user deaths (16 to 24 years old) went down by 73%, from 49 in 2010 to 13 in 2017.

The ETSC report has prompted IAM RoadSmart to warn that past progress could be undone and to call once again for road safety targets, and a partnership approach to drive home the safety message to a new generation of road users who are hooked on smartphones and social media. Another major report published this week on the UK’s capacity to deliver safer roads confirms this approach is needed (reference 2).

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “We know what works when it comes to making inroads into road fatalities, but more consistent funding and priority for road safety is needed to deliver it.

“The Safe System is firmly established in the UK but it does need to be backed up by road safety targets. The government’s own capacity review found that the lack of targets has led to the perception that road safety is not as high a priority as it could be. There is little comfort in being stuck in third place with limited prospects of going top of the league without a fundamental shift in approach and investment levels to eradicate personal loss and suffering on our roads.” 

Insurance Edge Comment:

Everyone who uses UK roads daily knows that they are full of pot-holes, even the motorways. There is an urgent need to switch funds from vanity projects like HS2, new £120m retail centres for towns and cities funded by council borrowing, into safer roads infrastructure including separate cycleways – not white lines painted on existing roads.

The UK casualty rate has also fallen partly because speeds have fallen to almost Victorian levels through crowded towns and cities. The upside is fewer fatal collisions, a very good thing. The downside is increased journey times, stress, ingestion of traffic fumes and earlier deaths from particulates emitted by cars, ancient taxis, school buses, delivery vans and lorries.

Politicians of all colours despise private motorised transport and the freedom it brings, but if they want everyone to use public transport then build an infrastructure that takes people to work, leisure and shopping centres – on time, every time. It really is that simple.

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