Car speeding along a road, view out of windscreen from vehicle interior

Expert group report outlines areas for EU action on speed

  • December 2, 2020

The European Commission has published the conclusions of a recent “executive seminar” on the issue of speed and road safety, outlining several recommended areas for action, including suggestions for maximum speed limits for different road categories.

The report says too many roads allow speeds which are too high for the safety of all road users present, given the level of protection afforded by the quality of the infrastructure and the vehicles involved. Evidence in different European countries (including Sweden, the Netherlands and France) generally shows that, where speed limits are reduced, mean speed decreases, and there are consequent declines in the numbers killed and seriously injured.

It was agreed that guidance from the EU level on speed would be very valuable. An EU-level “recommendation” on Blood Alcohol Concentration limits for drivers has helped encourage several countries to lower their limits.

Factors such as speed, alcohol and drug consumption, and distractions while driving are strongly correlated with both causation and severity of road crashes. The Commission says it will consider what action is warranted to tackle these issues, for instance through further use of EU recommendations.

According to the experts, any such guidance should offer clear guidelines for safe, credible, speed limits for different road types based on clear Safe System criteria such as 30 km/h in urban areas and rural road limits set according to measures such as dividers and crash barriers.

The group also recommended action on in-vehicle technology and infrastructure to vehicle systems to help with speed management.