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Brussels, 22 February 2006

Road safety: we must do more

The European Commission has today published figures showing the efforts made in the European Union since 2001 on road safety. Considerable progress has been made, especially in some Member States. In 2005, there were 8000 fewer road deaths than in 2001. But not enough progress has been made and more effort will be needed, at national and European level, to achieve the objective of halving the number of road deaths by 2010.

“The progress we have seen must be an incentive for everyone to do more still”, said Jacques Barrot, the European Commission Vice-President responsible for transport.

Since 2001 and with the European Road Safety Action Programme adopted in 2003, the European Union has helped to put road safety at the top of the agenda of the Member States' political concerns. Several Member States which had not yet done so have now adopted national road safety plans, often taking over the common target of halving the number of road accident victims.

The principal figures in the mid-term review are the following:

  • In 2001, 50 000 people were killed on the roads in the countries which today make up the European Union. The joint target proposed in 2001 and updated after enlargement in 2004 is that by 2010 there should be no more than 25 000 fatalities a year. The figures for 2005 show there were about 41 600 road deaths, a fall (albeit too small) of 17.5% over 4 years. At the present rate, there are likely to be 32 500 road deaths in the European Union in 2010, not a maximum of 25 000.
  • There are big differences between Member States: the gap between the best and the worst perfomers is within a range of 1 to 3 (in terms of the number of road deaths per million inhabitants) and 1 to 5 (in terms of the number of road deaths per million private cars).
  • In terms of the annual number of victims per million inhabitants and per million private cars, the countries which come out best compared with the European average are Malta, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and Finland. The countries with most problems as regards the two indicators are Poland, Portugal, Greece, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Cyprus and the Czech Republic.
  • Between 2001 and 2004, the number of road deaths fell by more than 14% (EU-25 average) in nine Member States (Germany, Estonia, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden). In eight others (Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Spain, Ireland, Austria, Finland and the United Kingdom) there was some progress (a fall of at least 5% but equal to or less than the average). In another eight (Czech Republic, Latvia, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Cyprus and Lithuania), there was slow progress or even a backward trend. These figures must nevertheless be treated with caution, especially in the very small Member States where a small number of serious accidents greatly affect the national result.

Considerable work has been done at European level on different aspects of road safety, such as the recent adoption of legislation on driving and rest times for professional drivers (IP/06/110), measures on vehicle safety, and education and awareness campaigns. Moving forward on the proposal on driving licences to combat driving licence fraud and to improve the skills and hence the safety of motorcyclists is now a matter of urgency. In absolute terms, the number of motorcyclists killed rose between 2000 and 2003, while the total number of road deaths fell. The proposal on driving licences (IP/03/1435) provides for gradual access to driving licences for the most powerful motorcycles and introduces a driving licence for mopeds. On this issue, Vice-President Jacques Barrot said: “I hope the Council will deal with the driving licence issue soon. We must do more to protect motorcyclists”.

The Commission currently has plans to launch new initiatives once the revised Transport White Paper has been adopted, this being expected at the end of April. The informal Council of Transport Ministers will discuss road safety in Bregenz (Austria) on 2 and 3 March.
Today’s Communication from the Commission is accompanied, among other things, by several annexes containing statistical data and country files:
European Union Road Safety Action Programme:

Key data on road safety
[Graphic in PDF & Word format]

Source: CARE database for EU 15 countries except Germany and national data for Germany and new Member States
Belgium data not available for 2003 and 2004

[Graphic in PDF & Word format]

[Graphic in PDF & Word format]

Source: Eurostat, CARE database for EU 15 countries except Germany and national data for Germany and new Member States.
Belgium data not available for 2003 and 2004

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