ETSC responds to European Commission’s new ten-year road safety strategy

  • October 20, 2019

ETSC has welcomed a number of aspects of the EU’s ten-year action plan on road safety, published in June. But ETSC also suggests, in a briefing published earlier this month, that a number of areas will require bolder action in order to reach the ambitious targets set out in the Commission’s plan.

The ETSC report highlights 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, ETSC says the Commission’s analysis of the current state of road safety in Europe is correct, but the planned policy approach will need additional 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, according to ETSC.

ETSC is calling on EU Member States and the European Parliament to support the new proposals and to also push for bolder action in a number of areas.  The last time the European Parliament took a comprehensive look at the EU’s overall road safety strategy was in a 2011 own-initiative report authored by the German MEP Dieter Koch.  The European Council, representing Member States, issued a declaration on road safety in 2017 including calls for new road death and serious injury targets.