EU Road Safety Policy Framework 2021-2030 – Next steps towards “Vision Zero”

In the “Europe on the Move” package in May 2018, the European Commission put forward a new approach to EU road safety policy , along with a medium term Strategic Action Plan

The number of people killed in road crashes around the world continues to increase. According to the World Health Organisation’s “Global Status Report on Road Safety” , it reached 1.35 million in 2016 alone. This means that, worldwide, more people die as a result of road traffic injuries than from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis or diarrhoeal diseases. And road crashes are now the most common cause of death for children and young people between 5 and 29 worldwide.

Evolution de l'accidentologie européenne

Between 2001 and 2010, the number of road deaths in the EU decreased by 43%, and between 2010 and 2018 by another 21%. However, 25,100 people still lost their lives on EU roads in 2018 and about 135,000 were seriously injured . This is an unacceptable and unnecessary human and social price to pay for mobility. In monetary terms alone, the yearly cost of road crashes in the EU has been estimated in a new study to be around EUR 280 billion, equivalent to about 2% of GDP !

Moreover, progress in reducing EU-wide road fatality rates has stagnated in recent years. It appears highly unlikely that the EU's current medium term target, to halve the number of road deaths between 2010 and 2020 , will be reached.

 Pyramide actions EU


First of all, the mindset of “Vision Zero” needs to take hold more than it has so far, both among policy makers and in society at large. Road crashes are “silent killers”, in that they often go virtually unnoticed in the public sphere, even though, taken together, they kill as many people – around 500 – as fit into a jumbo jet every week, in Europe alone.

Secondly, we need to implement the “Safe System” at EU level. Secondly, we need to implement the “Safe System” at EU level.

Thirdly, we have to be ready to confront new trends, such as the growing phenomenon of distraction by mobile devices. Some technological advances, first and foremost in connectivity and automation, will in future create new road safety opportunities by reducing the role of human errors.It is estimated that road infrastructure and road surroundings are a contributing factor in more than 30% of crashes.22 Well-designed and properly maintained roads can reduce the probability of road traffic accidents, while "forgiving" roads (roads laid out on Safe System principles e.g. with median safety barriers to ensure that driving errors do not need to have serious consequences) can reduce the severity of accidents that do happen. In addition, the revised rules prepare the way for higher levels of automation in vehicles, by launching work towards specifications for the performance of road signs and markings, including their placing, visibility and retro-reflectivity. This is important already today for the functioning of driver assistance systems like Intelligent Speed Assistance (in the case of speed limit signs) and Lane Keeping Assistance (in the case of road markings), and will become more important as the level of automation increases.According to the Commission’s impact assessment, these new rules have the potential to save up to 3200 lives and avoid 20.700 serious injuries by 2030.
Patrick Asimus - 17/08/2020