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Target of halving deaths by 2020 is slipping through Europe's fingers

Our RSA expert says: 'If Europe was on track then 4,040 more people would be alive today'


Progress on reducing road deaths has stalled

Progress on reducing road deaths has stalled

Progress on reducing road deaths has stalled

Progress in reducing road deaths across Europe has "virtually ground to a halt" since 2014.

That is the blunt assessment of the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC).

In its annual review of European countries' road safety performance in 2016, it highlights how last year was the third consecutive poor period for safety on roads.

Ireland is included in this negative trend as there have been increases in road deaths in three of the last four years.

In total, 25,670 people lost their lives on EU roads in 2016, compared with 26,200 in 2015. This represents a 2pc decline.

But it followed a 1pc increase in 2015 and stagnation in 2014.

The ETSC monitors 32 countries in its report.

In 2016, a total of 15 countries registered a decline in deaths, 15 had an increase and two stood still.

In Ireland there was a substantial 16pc increase in deaths - a rise from 162 in 2015 to 188 in 2016.

Indeed, Ireland registered the third highest increase in road deaths in Europe last year.

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The biggest increases were in Denmark (19pc), with Ireland (16pc) and Norway (15pc) also in the top three.

There has been a 19pc cut in road deaths across Europe since 2010.

However, not enough progress is being made to realise the target of cutting fatalities by 50pc by 2020. Because of recent poor progress, there now needs to be an average annual Europe-wide decrease of 11.4pc to stay on track.

To date, that average decline has been just 3.4pc.

The EU Commission's target could well be at risk if there are not significant declines over the next four years.

If Europe was on track to achieve its target, there would be 4,040 people alive and well today across the continent.

The ETSC blames lack of political will, declines in road policing and a failure to invest in infrastructure for the current situation.

It has compared road mortality rates for each of the EU28 countries to rate track records for 2016.

The overall road mortality rate was 51 deaths per million of population.

Norway and Switzerland are the safest countries in Europe, with 26 road deaths per million inhabitants.

They are followed by Sweden and the UK, with fewer than 30 deaths per million people in the country.

In Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany and Ireland, deaths are between 37 and 40 deaths per million.

The most dangerous roads in Europe are in Bulgaria and Romania (98 and 97 road deaths per million respectively).

In 2016, Ireland recorded 40 road deaths per million of population. That was a big jump on 2015 (36/million).

This places us seventh overall in the EU road safety table.

Another frequently used measurement of road safety progress is the number of deaths per vehicle kilometres travelled.

The EU average in 2016 was 6 deaths per billion vehicle kilometres.

Best in class is Norway (3 deaths per billion).

Ireland is fourth (4.2 deaths/billion).

Poland, I'm afraid, is at the back of the class with almost 16 deaths per billion vehicle kilometres travelled.

It really is hard to say whether the EU target can be achieved now.

But one thing is for sure: if there was a will at the highest levels both within the EU and at governmental level, it could be done.

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