European Commission claims it has the safest roads in the world

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 05 Apr 2019

Image sourced from European Transport safety council

According to its new, preliminary figures on road fatalities for 2018 published by the European Commission, fewer people died on European roads in 2018 but more efforts are needed to make a big leap forward.

According to the report, in 2018, there were around 25,100 fatalities in road accidents in the European Union. This is a decrease of 21 percent as compared to 2010, and 1 percent compared to 2017.

With an average of 49 road deaths per one million inhabitants, the European Commission claims that this confirms that European roads are by far the safest in the world. However, it also shows that they are off track to reach their target of halving the number of road deaths by 2020.

This underlines the need for swift action by its 28 member states and the entire road safety community to deliver on the ‘EU's strategic road safety action plan’, published in May 2018 as part of the Juncker Commission's 'Europe on the Move' package, which set out specific actions envisaged under the current Commission mandate.

Commissioner for transport Violeta Bulc said: "While I, of course, welcome any reduction in road traffic fatality figures, even a single road death is unacceptable. We have been assertive and ambitious in tackling road safety, adopting a strategic action plan, concrete actions on vehicle and infrastructure safety, and a policy framework for the next decade. As we continue to work towards ‘Vision Zero' – zero road deaths by 2050, we are committed to working with all Member States, as well as the Parliament and road safety community, to provide a level of safety that EU citizens demand and deserve."  

The Commission has already delivered concrete measures on vehicles and infrastructure safety and both were agreed upon by the Parliament and Council in early 2019. For infrastructure, risk mapping will be carried out for all motorways and for primary roads and vulnerable road-users will have to be systematically taken into account in all safety assessments, audits and inspections. For vehicles, a number of safety features will be included in all new vehicles, such as ‘Intelligent Speed Assistance’ to help drivers keep within the speed limit, and other proven new technologies such as ‘Automated Emergency Braking’ and ‘Lane Keeping Assistance’.

EU and its safety scorecard
For the majority of Member States, the road fatality rate was below 60 deaths per million inhabitants in 2018.The EU countries with the best road safety results in 2018 were the United Kingdom (28 deaths/million inhabitants), Denmark (30/million), Ireland (31/million), and Sweden (32/million). The countries with a higher-than-average decrease in road deaths from 2017 to 2018 were Slovenia (-13%), Lithuania (-11%), Bulgaria (-9%) and Slovakia and Cyprus (both -8%).

Only two EU Member States recorded a fatality rate higher than 80 deaths per million inhabitants, against 7 in 2010. The countries with the highest fatality rate were Romania (96/million), Bulgaria (88/million), Latvia (78/million) and Croatia (77/million).

A large number of vulnerable road users were affected: pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and the elderly, particularly in urban areas. With demographic changes and the ongoing trend towards active and sustainable mobility, these groups are expected to represent a higher proportion of road users in the future, and will require particular attention.

In addition to fatalities, the EU's focus is also on the seriously injured: it is estimated that, for every road death, five more people were seriously injured on EU roads last year (around 135,000).

Next steps
In its road safety policy framework for 2021-2030 and strategic action plan on road safety, both published in May 2018 as part of the 'Europe on the Move' package, the Commission confirms the EU's long-term goal of moving close to zero fatalities and serious injuries in road transport by 2050. The new interim targets, responding to the 2017 Valletta Declaration by transport ministers are to cut the number of road deaths by 50 percent between 2020 and 2030, and to halve the number of serious injuries in the same period. 

The 2018 figures are based on provisional data. There might be minor changes in the final data for individual countries

[2] The Netherlands have not released provisional data for 2018.

[3] Figures for the UK are an estimation based on data up to June 2018.​