Briefing: EU Strategic Action Plan on Road Safety

  • October 16, 2019

In June 2019, the European Commission adopted the EU Road Safety Policy Framework 2021-2030,[1] outlining specific policy measures planned for 2021-2030 and developing on the EU Strategic Action Plan on Road Safety published in May 2018.[2]  This briefing reflects ETSC’s first assessment of these initiatives with suggestions for further development and implementation.

This document refers mainly to the measures addressed by the European Commission in these latest documents.  An earlier ETSC briefing, published in February 2018 as input to the Commission’s preparatory process, contains ETSC’s detailed recommendations for priority road safety actions for the next decades and, as such, covers a wider range of issues[3].

Strong measures and a wider coverage of existing and emerging road safety issues will be essential to addressing the recent stagnation in progress on reducing road deaths in the EU.[4]

ETSC would like to highlight the following elements of the Commission’s proposals that are particularly welcome:

  • A new target to halve road deaths between 2020 and 2030 as well as, for the first time, a target to reduce serious injuries by the same amount.
  • Eight road safety Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to be measured across EU member states with outcome targets to be adopted in the future.
  • New funds to support road safety including the establishment of a “Safer Transport Platform”.
  • Preparation of legislation on enforcement, driving licences and automated vehicles.

But ETSC also sees room for improvement and increased ambition, in particular, but not limited to, the following areas:

  • Clearer priority measures for action are needed, as well as a detailed road map against which performance is measured and delivery made accountable to specific bodies;
  • Specific measures need to be introduced to reduce serious injuries, in light of the new target;
  • Policy measures, not just further research, on important areas such as distraction and drug driving enforcement;
  • Legislation, where appropriate, instead of unenforceable voluntary commitments;
  • Recognition of the need to revise legislation in the medium term (i.e. in 2025). For example, the General Safety Regulation for new vehicles will need to be updated to encompass new technology developments, and the Infrastructure Safety Directive should also be updated more than once in a decade to account for new developments and the rate of progress.

In short, the Commission’s analysis of the current state of road safety in Europe is correct, but the planned policy approach will need renewed effort if it is to result in the needed rapid and far reaching improvement.

In particular, rapidly evolving technologies such as micro-mobility and automated driving need substantial regulatory efforts now to avoid creating new and unforeseen risks.  Long-term research into these, and other areas, is welcome – but robust legislation following the precautionary principle and the Safe System Approach will be needed sooner rather than later.

[1] European Commission (2019) EU Road Safety Policy Framework 2021-2030- Next Steps towards “Vision Zero”.

[2] European Commission (2018) EU Strategic Action Plan on Road Safety.

[3] ETSC (2018) Briefing: 5th EU Road Safety Action Programme 2020-2030.

[4] ibid