New EU Road Safety Strategy

The Commission has announced that it is embarking on what it says is an ambitious path to substantially improved road safety. The way forward, according to the Commission, is outlined in a new Communication entitled ‘Towards a European road safety area: policy orientations on road safety 2011-2020’ in which the Commission outlines the progress made up until now, the challenges ahead and its various proposals aimed at dealing with them.

Although it acknowledges that the previous road safety programme did not halve the amount of road deaths in the EU by 2010 as it was originally supposed to do, a new target is nevertheless set, namely to reduce this year’s number of road fatalities by 2020.

The Communication underlines that every level of authority (EU, national, regional and local) has to be involved when it comes to improving road safety. The Communications foresees that Member States set their own national strategies for road safety, as these strategies will have to be sensitive to the different Member States’ starting points and circumstances.
Commission proposals

In the Communication the Commission outlines seven objectives:

Objective 1 – Improve education and training of road users: In order to improve education and training the Commission will aim to achieve, together with Member States, a common educational and training road safety strategy.

Objective 2 - Increase enforcement of road rules: The EU institutions will work together to enhance the sharing of information in the field of road safety between Member States. The Commission will also focus on creating a common road safety enforcement strategy which would include:
• Making it possible to install speed limiters in light commercial vehicles.
• Making it mandatory in specific cases to use alcohol interlock devices.
• The creation of national implementation plans.

Objective 3 - Safer road infrastructure: Infrastructure that does not conform with the EU’s road safety and tunnel safety Directives will not be able to get funding from the EU. The Commission will in regards to secondary roads in Member States, via the exchange of best practices, encourage the application of the relevant principles on infrastructure safety management.

Objective 4 – Safer vehicles: In order to improve the safety of vehicles the Commission intends to: 
• Make proposals that will promote improving the active and passive safety of different types of vehicles (for example electric vehicles and motorcycles).
• Make proposals to harmonise and strengthen technical roadside inspections and roadworthiness tests. 
• Focus on co-operative systems (i.e. their impact and benefits) in order to identify their most advantageous applications. It will also give recommendations on the relevant measures needed to synchronise the deployment of these systems.  

Objective 5 - Promote the use of modern technology to increase road safety: The Commission aims to cooperate with Member States to:
• Assess the possibility of retrofitting different kinds of vehicles with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems.
• Speed up the usage of e-Call and examine the possibility to use it in different types of vehicles.

Objective 6 - Improve emergency and post-injuries services: In a broad coalition between the Commission, Member States and other actors related to the field of road safety, the Commission aims to come up with a global strategy on first aid and road injuries.

Objective 7 - Protect vulnerable road users: Proposals will be made by the Commission in order to:
• Continue developing and monitoring technical standards in regards to protecting vulnerable road users.
• Expand vehicle inspections by including powered-two wheelers.
• Promoting the creation of infrastructure that will make transportation safer for cyclists and other vulnerable road users.

The Commission also intends to:
• Make sure that it monitors the implementation of already existing EU laws relating to road safety in Member States.
• Assess the need, concerning technical road accident investigation, for common principles across the EU.
• Create, together with Member States, an open cooperation framework that would contribute to the implementation and the monitoring of EU road safety policy. 
• In collaboration with Member States, improve the collection and analysis of data relating to accidents. They will also aim to develop the role of the European Road Safety Observatory.
• Set a target for injuries reduction. Since there is no definition of ‘severe and minor injuries’ the Commission cannot set a target for reducing them. However, since the Commission thinks it would be a good thing to do so, it will include such a target as soon as this issue has been clarified.

Next steps

The Communication says that there will be a White Paper on transport policy for 2010 to 2020 in which road safety will play an important role.