Brussels, 8 May 2014
European Road Safety Day 2014: Safer and smarter roads needed in the EU
On Europe Day, 9 May 2014, the European Commission and the Greek EU Presidency are hosting together the 6th European Road Safety Day in Athens. The topic to be discussed by experts, policy makers, industry and NGOs is: how to make EU roads safer and smarter.
Vice-President Siim Kallas, Commissioner for transport, said: "The EU has an outstanding road safety record in global comparison. But as long as there are fatal accidents on our roads, we cannot afford to be complacent. In 2013 still some 26 000 people died on our roads – a humbling challenge. During the last couple of years we have focused a lot on the role of road users. This year, it is time to look at the roads and the infrastructure. There is great potential in making EU roads both safer and smarter."
Safety efforts for European infrastructure have so far focused primarily on the motorways. That work has paid off. Today, only 7% of all road fatalities in the EU occur on motorways, in spite of the large traffic volumes and high speeds.
A question to be discussed at the European Road Safety Day is how to spread the benefits of the safer motorways also to the inter-urban road network where most fatal accidents occur today. The conference will also discuss what can be done to roll out more of the intelligent transport systems with great road safety potential, such as real-time warnings about dangerous road conditions (IP/13/430) and eCall (IP/14/438).
One of the success stories of making EU motorways safer is the adoption of certain basic safety principles for the management of roads on the trans-European road transport network1: safety inspections, mapping of the most dangerous road stretches and safety impact assessments before the building of new roads. The underlying principle is that no tax-payer money should be spent on building roads that are unsafe.
To focus on safe road infrastructure is also an important aspect of the "Safe System" approach that is widely applied in the EU. The Safe System admits that even the best road user can make mistakes. The road user is responsible for his or her road behaviour, but the infrastructure manager is responsible for making the roadsides safe. If a crash cannot be avoided, at least the road environment should be designed to minimise the damage.
About the European Road Safety Day
The European Road Safety Day brings together experts and researchers, policy makers, representatives of victims' organisations and the industry to discuss ways to improve road safety together. Some 200 participants are registered for the conference which this year takes place in Athens, hosted by the Greek EU Presidency. The event will be opened by Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, Mr Nikolaos Stathopoulos, Secretary General of the Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks and Mr Stratos Simopoulos, Secretary General of the Ministry of Public Works.
Follow Vice-President Kallas on Twitter
Directive 2008/96/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 November 2008 on road infrastructure safety management, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX:32008L0096