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Europe must work on pedestrian fatalities

Publication date: 28 May 2008


Brussels, 28th May 2008


EuroTest’s latest pan-European study undertaken by major automobile clubs* in ten European countries points to the need for harmonisation needed on national traffic rules for pedestrian crossings.


European travellers are still faced with a myriad of different national rules on pedestrian crossings and pedestrian rights and obligations when crossing the street. The EuroTest survey, coordinated by the Touring Club Suisse (TCS) and co-financed by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile's FIA Foundation, reveals that Spain is the most dangerous country for pedestrians with a death ratio of 15.7 per million. Italy and Great Britain follow (both at 11.5), Austria and Germany (both 10.9) and Belgium rates (10.3). The safest countries for pedestrians are the Netherlands with 4.6 deaths per million, followed by Norway (6.7) and Finland (7.2) and Switzerland (9).


“This survey reveals that the rules everywhere in Europe about how when and where you can cross the street are not the same,” said Caroline Ofoegbu of the FIA European Bureau. “Pedestrian crossings are not the same and your chances of crossing safely using them vary significantly.” Co-ordinator TCS notes that the EuroTest study, part of a three year project, compares ten European countries and their legislation (as of 2005) with respect to pedestrians. The second and third years of this project will assess pedestrian crossings facilities in major European cities in 14 countries. TCS points to major differences in fines for car drivers who do not observe rules on pedestrian crossings and pedestrian priority. The Swiss automobile club also stresses how pedestrian crossings planning and design may differ significantly between countries often leading to poor visibility of road markings, use of different coloured road markings, cars parked too close obscuring pedestrians from sight, and cars approaching a crossing too quickly. “There are still gaps to fill at the European level with respect to harmonising accident statistics, traffic rules for car drivers and pedestrians as well as pedestrian crossing design,” noted TCS.


Andrew Howard, head of road safety at UK club AA, also points to a worrying conundrum. Despite  UK pedestrian crossings being among the safest in Europe, pedestrians account for the majority of road fatalities (as in Spain). Around 90% of UK victims are killed outside of pedestrian crossings, possibly explained by the fact that the UK has fewer crossings. “Would Britain's pedestrians be safer if we had more cheap, simple and possibly less safe crossings, to complement our light controlled super crossings? Or are our super crossings all that keeps our pedestrian death toll down?" wonders Howard.


On the basis of the study, the EuroTest partners issued several recommendations for governments and road safety authorities in Europe:


- Improve the quality of data acquisition on pedestrians accidents.
- Harmonise road traffic rules for drivers and pedestrians on pedestrian crossings.
- Establish Europe-wide guidelines and tools for road designers to secure and build safe pedestrian crossings.
- Ensure pedestrian crossings are safe places for pedestrians and fully integrated in the urban and rural mobility network.


* ÖAMTC (Austria), TCB (Belgium), AL (Finland), ADAC (Germany), AA (Great Britain), ACI (Italy), ANWB (Netherlands), NAF (Norway), RACC and RACE (Spain), TCS (Switzerland).


Madrid and Barcelona campaign
The EuroTest study confers the dubious distinction on Spain as the country with the highest pedestrian mortality rate in 2005 (15.7 per million). That prompted Real Automóvil Club de España (RACE) and Reial Automòbil Club de Catalunya (RACC) to join forces in a targeted campaign to bring home the message to both drivers and pedestrians. In Barcelona and Madrid, drivers and pedestrians woke up to find key crossings painted with the message: “One out of every three road deaths was a pedestrian”. Excellent media coverage carried the message further into the homes of millions of Spaniards.

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