In 2010, the European Union renewed its commitment to improve road safety by setting a target of reducing road deaths by 50% by 2020, compared to 2010 levels. This target followed an earlier target set in 2001 to halve the number of road deaths by 2010. A new target to halve road deaths and the first target to halve the number of serious road traffic injuries by 2030 compared to 2020 levels were announced by the European Commission on 17 May 2018.
25,047 people lost their lives on EU roads in 2018, representing a 1% reduction compared to 2017. The EU has collectively reduced the number of road deaths by just 4% over the last five years.
Out of the 32 countries monitored by the ETSC Road Safety Performance Index (PIN) programme, 16 reduced road deaths in 2018 (Fig.1). The best results were achieved by Slovakia with a 17% decrease, Israel with 13%, Slovenia with 12%, Lithuania with 11% and Bulgaria with 10%. Road deaths increased in ten countries, while progress stagnated in six.
There has been progress over a longer period, but not enough to meet the 2020 target. Since 2010, EU countries achieved an overall reduction in road deaths of 20.7%, which equals a 2.8% annual average reduction. A 6.7% year-to-year reduction was needed over the 2010-2020 period to reach the 2020 target through constant progress in annual percentage terms.
This reduction was not achieved and the target is now effectively out of reach. The EU would need to reduce the number of road deaths by 20.6% in 2019 and 2020 to reach the target – a highly unlikely possibility.
Strong political will and urgent measures are needed in all EU Member States to narrow the gap between the desired and the actual EU progress. Increased traffic law enforcement and treatment of high risk sites are among the measures that can have an immediate positive road safety effect.
These years of stagnation also highlight the urgent need for strong action at EU level. In May 2018, the European Commission adopted its EU Strategic Action Plan for Road Safety that includes a new target to halve road deaths by 2030 compared to 2020 levels, as well as, for the first time, a target to halve seriously injured over the same period of time.
The Strategic Action Plan outlines the main measures to be taken before the end of the current Commission’s mandate ending in 2019, as well as the actions planned for the 2020-2030 period. The EC also committed to present an EU Road Safety Policy Framework for 2020-2030 by spring 2019 to further develop the proposals. Work is also ongoing on a definition of road safety performance indicators to allow for better, more comprehensive monitoring of progress.
The EU Strategic Action Plan was published as part of the third mobility package, which also includes new vehicle safety standards, updated rules on road infrastructure safety management and a strategy for automated driving. The new General Safety Regulation comprises of a number of updated minimum safety requirements for new vehicles that will come into force starting in 2022.
The legislation mandates a range of new vehicle safety features such as Automated Emergency Braking (AEB) and overridable Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) as standard on all new vehicles sold on the EU market. New heavy goods vehicles will have to comply with direct vision requirementsas of 2028. Passive safety is also improved by
extending the crash test zone to include the windscreen between the A-pillars for better pedestrian and cyclist protection.
TRL, the UK transport research laboratory, estimated in a study for the European Commission that the package of proposed vehicle safety measures could prevent around 25,000 deaths and 140,000 people seriously injured across all vehicle categories within 15 years.
As of 2021, the new minimum infrastructure safety management procedures will have to be extended beyond the TEN-T network and will apply to all motorways, all “primary roads” and all non-urban roads that receive EU funding.
The proposed measures were estimated to save up to 3200 lives and prevent more than 20,000 serious injuries over the period 2020-2030.
Eleven PIN countries have also started preparing national road safety strategies for the upcoming decade. Individual countries’ efforts will be crucial for the implementation of the Safe System approach across the EU, and for achieving the 2030 targets.Download Download background tables