Is the UK “dropping its guard” on road safety?
The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) have today commented upon the latest figures which suggest that EU wide road safety targets are at a real risk of not being achieved.
The report reveals the worst annual reduction in EU road deaths since 2001, the figures having been effected by a worrying actual increase in road deaths in France, Germany, and here in the United Kingdom.
The report states that 25,845 people were killed on roads in the EU in 2014, a decrease overall of only 0.6%, and these poor figures now mean that in order to achieve the EU targets for 2020 a massive 8% reduction in deaths will be needed between now and then. The original target set in 2010 was to halve deaths within a decade, and that now looks like it will be out of reach without a dramatic improvement in road safety to be led by policy of national governments and potentially EU legislation.
Serious injuries on the roads are also on the increase. In 23 EU countries, statistics record serious injuries and slight injuries separately, rather than just recording all injuries together. In those countries there were 203,500 affected people in 2014, a 3% increase from 2014. These figures may in part be explained by being recorded as injuries where previously they may have resulted in a death, as a result of improved safety technology and equipment and advances in medical response an treatment. However, this cannot be a complete explanation and hence the statistics are likely to represent an increase in incidents on the road which cause serious injuries such as brain and spinal cord injuries.
The worrying results in terms of road deaths for the UK (and indeed France and Germany) are put under a brighter spotlight when compared to Croatia, Slovenia, Finland, Greece, Luxembourg and Malta, all with a recorded reduction in road deaths of over 10%. Slovenia has reduced road deaths by 61% since 2001, and it is believed that this is linked to high level political will and commitment to safety which might not be being replicated everywhere.
As a result of these figures the ETSC has renewed its call for safety technologies to become a greater priority – maybe through EU legislation or regulations, asking that Automated Emergency Braking, Intelligent Speed Assistance, Seat Belt reminders for passenger seats and an interface for alcohol devices to be made standard on all new vehicles.
Antonio Avenoso, Executive Director of the ETSC, reserved some particularly damning comment for the UK saying:-
“It’s very disappointing to see the UK, a road safety champion, dropping its guard in recent years: we are now seeing the fallout with progress slowing and even going into reverse”
Many road safety charities and groups have been campaigning for a long time now for a politically led fully integrated road safety policy, which links technology, road planning and communities, and in light of these statistics, that would seem to be an even bigger priority than ever.