In 2019, the European Commission adopted a new EU Road Safety Policy Framework 2021-2030 which outlines the strategic plan to reach a target of reducing road fatalities and serious injuries by 2030 by 50%. Progress will be monitored by a list of key safety performance indicators (KPIs) which were developed closely with Member States.
European Road Fatalities
This comes at a time where action is needed throughout Europe to reduce serious injuries and fatalities on the roads. Over 25,000 Europeans die on the roads every single year and this is a figure that has not dropped by a significant amount in many years. The target of 50% by 2030 is ambitious but achievable and will be crucial for the long-term strategic goal of no deaths or serious injuries on European roads by 2050 – a safety project called Vision Zero.
GB Compared to Other Countries
In terms of Great Britain, there was a period of substantial reduction in fatalities between 2006 and 2010 but figures have remained similar in recent years so it is clear that more needs to be done. Despite this, GB had the third least number of road deaths per million inhabitants in 2018 behind only Switzerland and Norway. At the other end of the spectrum, Bulgaria had the highest number at just under 100 million followed by Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Latvia, Poland, Hungary and Greece.
While there is a lot of work to be done over the next few years, there have been some improvements around the EU which should inspire hope. Slovakia has seen a 17% decrease while Slovenia and Lithuania followed with a 12 and 11% reduction respectively. Bulgaria with the highest number of road deaths saw a 10% reduction in 2018 so there are some positives to take.
The Strategic Action Plan includes new vehicle safety standards, updated rules on road infrastructure safety management and a new strategy for the move toward autonomous driving. There have been many great strides in vehicle safety technology in recent times with advanced features like Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) and overridable Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) and these features will become standard on all vehicles sold in the EU.
Of course, it is not just fatalities that are being addressed as the goal is also to reduce serious injuries. It is difficult to compare serious injuries to years gone by because there have been changes in systems for severity reporting but it is estimated that there has been a slight decline in the UK but at a slower rate prior to 2010. The high number of serious injuries on the roads is why there are so many No Win, No Fee cases in this country and it is hoped that these will be halved in the next 10 years.
The goal to reduce road fatalities and injuries by 50% by 2030 by the European Commission is ambitious but it is important to take strong action with so many fatalities and serious injuries occurring on European roads in recent times. It is concerning that figures have not dropped significantly but the new strategy should start to quickly deliver results.