Lithuania awarded road safety prize after deaths fall more than 50% in a decade

Lithuania is the winner of this year’s European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) Road Safety Performance Index (PIN) Award, in recognition of major improvements in road safety over the last decade.  Out of the European countries tracked by ETSC, Lithuania was the only EU country to halve road deaths between 2011 and 2021.

Among non-EU European countries, only Norway did better with a reduction of 52%.

The ETSC panel of experts cited eight key elements in the decision to award this year’s prize to Lithuania:

  • A long-term national road safety programme with a target of further reducing deaths by 50% by 2030, with Vision Zero by 2050;
  • In-depth collision investigation of all fatal vehicle crashes since 2019;
  • The development of a new traffic collision information system designed to better capture accurate road death and injury statistics, incorporating data from hospitals;
  • A nationwide programme since 2018 to audit pedestrian crossings and improve the level of safety;
  • A substantial increase in cycling infrastructure in Vilnius, the capital city, from 40 km in 2015, to a target of 160 km by 2023;
  • Average speed cameras introduced in 81 road sections since 2018. The country also has 400 fixed speed cameras;
  • Zero-tolerance blood alcohol concentration limits for professional and novice drivers, and 0.4 g/l for all others;
  • An alcohol-interlock programme for drink-driving offenders, as an alternative to a driving ban – in operation since 2019.

According to ETSC’s latest annual Road Safety Performance Index (PIN) report, published today, road deaths in the EU27 in 2021 were reduced collectively by an unprecedented 13% compared to 2019. ETSC says this reduction can, to a large extent, be attributed to mobility changes caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and there is no guarantee that this progress can be maintained if traffic volumes revert to the way they were before the pandemic.

Antonio Avenoso, Executive Director of ETSC said:

“Despite a big drop in road deaths over the last two years, the Covid-19 pandemic has not immunised Europe against road death and injury. 20,000 people die each year on our roads, and getting these numbers down will take hard work, political will and investment.  Lithuania is a great example of a country that is tackling the problem on multiple fronts: strategic planning, drink-driving, speed, infrastructure and enforcement – this award is well deserved.”

The European Commission is currently in the process of revising rules on driving licences for the EU.  ETSC says the minimum age for obtaining a driving license should not be lowered, and graduated driving licenses should be recommended to avoid high risk situations for young drivers such as driving after consuming alcohol or late at night.  ETSC is also calling for the higher standards of training currently applied to lorry and bus drivers to be extended to van drivers.

Ellen Townsend, Director of Policy at ETSC said:

“We need to recognise that young and inexperienced drivers have a much higher risk of injuring themselves and others.  Smarter rules, such as lower alcohol limits and bans on night driving, can help young people gain experience in a safer environment and protect them from causing a tragedy.”

Download the report at:

www.etsc.eu/pin16

 

Relative change in road deaths between 2011 and 2021

(1) National provisional estimates used for 2021, as final figures for 2021 are not yet available at the time this report went to print. (2) UK data for 2021 are the provisional total for Great Britain for the year 2021 combined with the total for Northern Ireland for the calendar year 2021. The annual number of deaths in LU and MT are particularly small and, therefore, subject to substantial annual fluctuations. The annual numbers of deaths in CY and EE are also relatively small and may be subject to annual fluctuations.

 

Mortality (road deaths per million inhabitants) in 2021 (with mortality in 2011 for comparison)

(1) National provisional estimates used for 2021, as final figures for 2021 were not available at the time this report went to print. The annual number of deaths in LU and MT are particularly small and, therefore, subject to substantial annual fluctuations. (2) UK 2021 estimate is based on GB provisional total for the year 2021 and the provisional data for Northern Ireland for the calendar year 2021, population data is an estimate for the year 2021.

 

Notes to editors:

  • ETSC is an independent, non-profit organisation dedicated to reducing the numbers of deaths and injuries in transport in Europe.
  • ETSC’s Road Safety Performance Index (PIN) programme receives financial support from the German Road Safety Council (DVR), Toyota Motor Europe, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration and CITA – the International Motor Vehicle Inspection Committee.
  • Follow ETSC on twitter @etsc_eu and LinkedIn.
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