A European plan for Road Safety

The European Parliament has this week backed the European Commission’s goal for halving the number of road deaths by 2020. This goal is part of the Commission’s policy orientations on road safety 2011-2020.

Road safety is a major societal issue. In 2009, more than 35,000 people died on the roads of the European Union, i.e. the equivalent of a medium town, and no fewer than 1,500,000 persons were injured. The cost for society is huge, representing approximately 130 billion Euro in 2009.

In its Communication “Europe 2020 – A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth”, the Commission has underlined the importance for Europe of social cohesion, a greener economy, education and innovation. These objectives should be reflected in the various aspects of European transport policy which should aim at ensuring sustainable mobility for all citizens, “decarbonising” transport and make full use of technological progress. Road safety plays an important role in the White Paper on transport policy 2010 – 2020, as lowering the number of road users’ casualties is key to improving the overall performance of the transport system and to meet citizens’ and companies’ needs and expectations.

A coherent holistic and integrated approach is therefore needed, taking into account synergies with other policy goals. Road safety policies at local, national, European or international level should integrate relevant objectives of other public policies and vice versa.

The proposed policy orientations takes fully account of the results obtained during the 3rd road safety action programme 2001-2010, showing that in spite of important progress made on road safety, efforts needed to be continued and further strengthened.

The European road safety policy orientations up to 2020 aims to provide a general governance framework and challenging objectives which should guide national or local strategies. In line with the principle of subsidiarity, actions described should be implemented at the most appropriate level and through the most appropriate means.

In the framework of these policy orientations, the Commission considers that the three following actions should be undertaken as a priority:

the establishment of a structured and coherent cooperation framework which draws on best practices across the Member States, as a necessary condition to implement in an effective manner the road safety policy orientations 2011-2020,
a strategy for injuries and first aid to address the urgent and growing need to reduce the number of road injuries,
the improvement of the safety of vulnerable road users, in particular motorcyclists for whom accidents statistics are particularly worrying.

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