[WATCH] EU's aim to halve road fatalities by 2020 looking hard to reach

Recent EU-wide road safety statistics have shown that for the second year in a row, the number of fatalities on European roads has not improved

paul_cocks
Paul Cocks
28 March 2017, 1:28pm
Jean Todt, UN special envoy for road safety, said that EU countries were serving as an example in their effort to reduce road fatalities
Jean Todt, UN special envoy for road safety, said that EU countries were serving as an example in their effort to reduce road fatalities
Recent EU-wide road safety statistics have shown that for the second year in a row, the number of fatalities on European roads has not improved, and meeting the target of halving the number of road deaths by 2020 is becoming increasingly challenging. 

25,500 people lost their lives on EU roads in 2016, 600 fewer than in 2015, but the European Commissioner for mobility and transport said on Tuesday that the bloc's member states needed to do more if its set targets were to be reached.

The EU had said it wanted to halve the number of road fatalities in the EU by 2020 and to have no fatalities at all on European roads by 2050.

"Our Vision Zero for 2050 is clear, now let us work to make it happen," Violeta Bulc said. "This issue is more important than statistics and I promise you the Commission will deliver on whatever we can manage to do. The European Union remains committed to its long-term commitment to road safety and all member states are fully on board with the plan to reduce road fatalities to zero by the middle of the century.”

Bulc was in Malta to attend a high-level stakeholder conference at the Corinthia Palace in Balzan, bringing together road safety experts, stakeholders, and policy-makers, under the auspices of the Maltese presidency of the Council of the European Union. 

Jean Todt, former racing director of Ferrari’s Formula One team and now special envoy of the United Nations for road safety, was also in attendance.

Asked by MaltaToday if she felt that the target set by the EU’s Vision Zero by 2050 was actually feasible, Bulc said she remained optimistic that increased awareness, coupled with advances in technology, would make it possible to have no road fatalities in the EU by 2050.

“I believe that by 3030 we will have already moved more solidly towards car automation and more intelligent driverless cars,” she said. “We will also start seeing a different methodology when organising urban mobility, including more intelligent street signs and lights, that will actually communicate directly with cars.”

Bulc acknowledged that the EU was not going down this road alone and said she was enjoying working closely with the UN and with Jean Todt in particular.

Todt said that he had spent a total of 50 years in racing but that, for him, racing had always been a laboratory for the development of high-level prototypes, which could then be transposed into the road and urban realities.

“A small country like Malta too needs to adhere to what I consider the five basic tenets of road safety,” he told MaltaToday, “Using safety belts, no drink driving, not using the phone when driving, no speeding and wearing helmets when riding motorcycles are simple, yet crucial instructions that would drastically affect the number of road fatalities" he said.

Todt insisted however that no education or awareness campaign would serve its purpose without an adequate enforcement policy.

“Keep in mind that the while 30km/h may not sound like much, in certain small streets, 30km/h is bloody quick,” he said.

Todt said road fatalities around the world have reached pandemic levels with 1.25 million people killed on the roads every year. 

He said EU countries were serving as an example in their effort to reduce road fatalities and focusing on road safety across the bloc. 
"I look forward to see how we can continue to work together to fulfill our vision for a safer world," Todt said.

The conclusions from today's stakeholder meeting will be presented to transport ministers tomorrow.

The objective of this conference is to launch a political debate and outline future political direction. A Declaration on Road Safety will be endorsed during the Ministerial Conference.

This conference, bringing together Ministers and stakeholders, is an opportunity to discuss the current state of play in road safety, and the way forward to reduce the number of road deaths and serious injuries.

Information stands and exhibits have also been set up where road safety organisations are presenting their work and products.

paul_cocks
Paul Cocks joined MaltaToday after having spent years working in newspapers with The Times...