A survey by ETSC of the main political groups in the European Parliament ahead of this month’s elections has found universal support for measures to cut deaths and the more than 300,000 serious injuries that occur on Europe’s roads each year. But the research also revealed differences across the political spectrum on which road safety measures should be introduced at the European level.
ETSC welcomed the support for concrete measures to cut serious injuries, which have been falling at a slower rate than deaths. The European Commission is expected to come forward with new proposals next year.
There was also cross-party support for further measures to tackle drink driving. Four out of the six groups surveyed backed a harmonised zero blood alcohol limit across the EU. Only the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group rejected the proposal outright, saying it should be up to Member States to decide. ETSC has long argued for harmonisation, not least because of the confusion drivers currently face with the multitude of different limits across the EU.
The same five groups said they support the mandatory use of alcohol interlock devices under certain circumstances with the greens, S&D (socialists) and EPP (conservatives) saying they should be mandatory for professional drivers and repeat drink driving offenders. The ALDE (liberal) and GUE (left) groups said they should only be used for recidivist offenders, while the ECR gave only lukewarm support for their use for professional drivers, adding that it thought ‘education’ and ‘improved transport infrastructure’ would contribute more to road safety.
The ECR group was also alone in resisting the idea of introducing automated emergency braking systems for cars and vans. While all other groups welcomed an EU push to make the technology more widespread, the ECR said the ‘practicalities’ required further study.
There was broad support amongst MEPs for an extension of the EU infrastructure safety directive which currently only applies to to roads on the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T). The GUE group went the furthest, saying the rules, which include provisions for road safety network impact assessments and regular inspections, should apply to all roads. The other political groups, with the exception of the ECR, said the requirements should apply only to motorways. The ECR, again took a different line, saying it should be up to member states to decide.
The European Parliamentary elections take place 22-25 May. Download ETSC’s EP election manifesto here.