A Strategy for EU Transport Safety Research

  • June 1, 2001

The cost of transport crashes is estimated at around at 2 per cent of the GDP of the European Union – around twice the amount of the annual EU budget for all activity. Road crashes are the largest single cause of death for EU citizens under 45 years. One in three citizens will require hospital treatment during their lifetime following a road crash. Individual public transport tragedies are a major source of public concern.

Preventing death and disabling injury entails a transport system that is better adapted to the needs, errors and physical vulnerabilities of its users rather than one which expects users to cope with increasingly demanding conditions. It means working to reduce crash injury risk, mitigating the severity of injuries when accidents occur and trying to reduce the long term consequences of injuries through better post impact care. This involves addressing the design, interface, and operation of all aspects of the traffic system – vehicles, users and infrastructure. This holistic approach requires action at all levels of government – EU, national, regional and local levels and shared responsibility between public and private sectors.

In view of the size of this challenge to policymakers in EU countries and the need to increase knowledge about successful interventions, safety has to be at least an equal consideration to mobility and environmental considerations in EU transport research policy.

To date, transport safety research has been dealt with in a fragmentary way in EU research programmes, within the Transport Directorate’s own programmes and in the programmes of other Directorates. It has received too low a level of support in EU research programmes. Projects need to attract a 100% level of Community funding to encourage participation by those who do not have a stake in the financial consequences of the research.

Transport safety research objectives need to be set for 6th Framework giving priority to areas where the casualty reduction benefit is high, where the Community can act to add value and where the implementation possibilities are good.

In view of the fact that over 90% of the costs and deaths in transport accidents occur in road transport, priority is given in this document to road safety research priorities.