Tuesday 27 September 2016

The killing roads: New report shows more people dying and being injured

*Latest breakdown of figures makes for shocking reading, says our Road Safety Authority expert

Published 24/06/2015 | 02:30

2014 was a bad year for road safety in Europe
2014 was a bad year for road safety in Europe

Like primary schools around the country last week, the end of year road safety report card for European countries was published by the European Transport Safety Council. It doesn't make for positive reading; 2014 was a bad year for road safety in Europe.

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In total 25,845 people were killed in 28 EU countries. It was a decrease of only 0.6pc. But a reduction of almost 7pc was needed to ensure Europe stayed on course to meet the EU target of reducing road deaths by 50pc by 2020.

Last year represented the slowest pace in reducing fatalities since the EU began setting targets in 2001. Last year, 203,500 people were seriously injured - a 3pc increase compared with 2013.

Overall it seems as if road safety has stagnated across Europe. Malta (-44pc), Luxembourg (-22pc), and Croatia (-16pc) achieved the best reductions in the number of road-deaths last year. Slovenia, Serbia, Finland and Greece recorded reductions of more than or nearly 10pc.

However, deaths rose in the three biggest EU countries, which account for 44pc of the EU28's population (1pc in Germany, 3.5pc in France and 2pc in the UK).

They also rose in Latvia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Lithuania and Cyprus. Fatalities rose by 4pc in Ireland - the second consecutive annual increase.

The ETSC report suggests the fine weather, economic growth and reduced funding for road safety may have been factors.

Unfortunately, the only way we can measure success is by recording the number of deaths. We express this as a ratio of the overall population or as 'deaths per million population'.

The average number of deaths per million among the EU's 28 countries in 2014 was 53. The top five safest countries in the EU28 based on this are Malta (28 deaths per million), Sweden (28), the UK (28), Denmark (33), and the Netherlands (34).

Along with Germany, Ireland is rated the eighth safest country in Europe with 42 deaths per million. This is a drop from sixth safest in 2013.

According to the ETSC report, the most dangerous roads are in Latvia, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Poland. Mortality rates from road crashes in these countries range between 84 to 106 deaths per million population.

Interestingly, when road deaths are linked to statistics for the number of vehicle kilometres travelled, Ireland stands out among the safest; 19 EU countries have up to date data on vehicle distances travelled.

When compared, Sweden, the UK and Ireland have the lowest number of road deaths per billion vehicle kilometres.

Overall there has been an 18pc reduction in road deaths between 2010 and 2014 across the EU. This rate of decline hasn't been matched when it comes to reducing the number of people being seriously injured. Serious injuries have only reduced by 1.6pc in same period.

Ireland has done well in reducing the number of serious injuries in recent years. Greece has achieved the biggest reduction since 2010 (-37pc), followed by Latvia (-24pc) and then Ireland (-22pc).

Ireland has done a better job in reducing serious injuries than deaths over the past five years.

The ETSC report is clear in its recommendations to both EU member states and EU institutions. More needs to be done to tackle road trauma, if we want to achieve the target of reducing road deaths by 50pc, by the end of the decade.

It has called on countries to encourage local governments to adopt zones with speed limits of 30km/h in residential areas and areas used by many pedestrians and cyclists.

EU institutions have been challenged to prioritise the development and roll-out of more in-vehicle technologies such as Intelligent Speed Assistance, Seatbelt Reminders and Alcohol Interlocks.

Whether the message is heeded remains to be seen.

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