Progress on road safety in the EU has come to a standstill, partly as a result of cuts to police enforcement of traffic offences, a Europe-wide body has said.
The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) said 2015 was the second consecutive poor year for road safety, with 26,300 people dying on EU roads, an increase of 1% on the previous year.
ETSC has partly blamed cuts to enforcement for the rise in deaths
This was the first increase since 2001.
According to the ETSC’s 10th Annual Road Safety Performance Index (PIN) Report, Britain’s roads were the second safest in Europe, in terms of deaths per billion vehicle-km travelled. On this measure, Sweden’s roads were the safest.
Norway (a non-EU country) made the most progress of all countries tracked by the PIN programme and had the lowest number of road deaths (23) per million inhabitants.
The ETSC pointed out that, road deaths in the EU (plus Norway) were cut by 17% between 2010 and 2015, equivalent to a 3.6% average annual reduction.
However, the recent increase in deaths made it harder to meet the EU target of reducing road deaths by 50% by 2020, compared to 2010 levels.
The ETSC said ‘the political will to improve on this poor progress is important’ but that a lack of it at EU member state level has contributed to a decline in levels of police enforcement, a failure to invest in safer infrastructure and limited action on tackling speed and drink driving in many countries.
It said there has also been a distinct lack of action at the EU level. Four proposed road safety initiatives that the European Commission was expected to bring forward in the last year ‘have been delayed and it is not clear when they will see the light of day’.
These initiatives were revisions of vehicle safety, pedestrian protection and infrastructure safety rules, as well as a new target and measures to reduce serious road injuries.