EU missing road safety opportunities, says ETSC
In its 16th Road Safety PIN Flash, the ETSC has analysed excessive speed and found that data from the countries that monitor mean driving speeds in free-flowing traffic shows that drivers have slowed down appreciably since 2001. Best progress has been made on motorways, where “only” up to 30% of drivers now exceed the speed limit. Unfortunately, speed violations are still up to 70% on rural roads and as many as 80% on urban roads.
More than 2,200 road deaths could be prevented each year if average driving speeds dropped by only 1 km/h on all roads across the EU, according to ETSC estimates, and the organisation says that the EU should adopt the Cross Border Enforcement Directive to address speeding in the EU without delay.
Deaths attributed to drink driving have decreased somewhat faster than other road deaths since 2001 in the EU – by about 5.8% against 4.2% on average each year. However, a massive underreporting distorts the real picture: it is estimated that alcohol-related deaths make up to 25% of all road deaths against 11.5% according to official statistics.
In response, the ETSC says that the EU should promote consistent and visible enforcement as powerful deterrents to drink driving and adopt a 0.2g/l BAC limit for commercial and novice drivers. And the EU should support the introduction of alcolocks, in rehabilitation programmes and for fleet drivers; this could further reduce drink driving and complement zero tolerance of drink driving by all drivers as represented by roadside police checks.
Moving on to seatbelt use in light vehicle, although this is obligatory in all member states, usage in the EU is estimated to be only 88% for front seats and as low as 72% for rear seats. Some progress has been made, but wearing rates are still disturbingly low in many Eastern and Southern European countries.
As such, the ETSC says that the EU should support the extension of seatbelt reminders to all seats without delay. Across the EU, an estimated 2,500 deaths could have been prevented last year if 99% of occupants had been wearing a seatbelt.
Commenting on the findings, ETSC executive director Antonio Avenoso said: ‘The life-saving potential of comparatively simple and known measures in these key areas of road safety is huge. The EU should use the Directive on Cross Border Enforcement within the 4th European Road Safety Action Programme to urge member states to adopt new legislative measures to cut down speeding, drink driving and non-use of seat belts radically. They should also monitor indicators of these behaviours.’