A long-promised EU strategic target to reduce serious road injuries has been dropped from a major European Commission review of the region’s road safety policy published yesterday. The European Transport Safety Council is calling on ministers at today’s Transport Council meeting in Luxembourg, to ask the Commission to come forward with the target as promised.
ETSC’s analysis shows that more than 200,000 people suffered life-changing injuries in road collisions last year – an increase of 3% since 2013.
The watered-down language published in a staff working paper says the Commission will “work on serious injuries including monitoring of progress…” – but makes no mention of the strategic target promised ‘shortly’ in a Commission press release of 24 March.
ETSC understands that the decision to drop the target came from a high level in the European Commission, but no explanation has been given publically on why there has been a sudden u-turn.
The mystery surrounding the change of heart is compounded by text contained within a 104-page comprehensive progress report published by the Commission as part of yesterday’s review that says the “Definition and methodology on serious road injuries is in place: prerequisites for setting a strategic target are fulfilled.”
Antonio Avenoso, Executive Director of the European Transport Safety Council said:
“On the one hand the Commission is saying that the criteria for setting a strategic serious road injury target have been met, and yet this very target seems to have been dropped from the announcement of the biggest review of EU road safety policy in five years. It’s hard to comprehend what the roadblock is when the target has broad political support and is such a simple, cheap, non-controversial and necessary step.
“Targets for cutting road deaths set by the EU in 2001 and 2010 have made a major contribution to the dramatic reductions we have seen in recent years. But we have not seen the same level of progress on serious injuries – hence the widely accepted need for a separate target. ”
In a letter sent on Tuesday, a coalition of more than 50 experts and organisations as well as 11 MEPs asked President Juncker for his “assurance that the…target will be proposed in the coming weeks.”
Despite concerns over the future of the serious injury target, ETSC says the road safety policy review does give some grounds for optimism, including confirmation of a review of mandatory vehicle safety technologies expected later this year, and work to extend the EU’s rules on road infrastructure safety.
ETSC will publish a detailed response to the review in the coming weeks.