FIA Wants the Setting of New Targets for Road Safety
Publication date: 26 February 2010
FIA calls for a robust road safety policy with ambitious targets!
In a recent letter Werner Kraus, FIA Eurocouncil Chairman, challenged Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the European Commission to target unequivocal remedies for the road fatality and injury epidemic that persists on Europe’s highways. He told Commissioner Kallas that addressing the new road safety challenges linked to increasing road traffic doubtlessly call for high-level political will coupled with ambitious targets. He further underlined that, over the past decade, high level commitments towards road safety made by both the European Union and national governments have paid off in making European roads safer. In eight years, Europe has reduced its fatalities by more than a quarter and its injuries by around a tenth, this while the European Union has had two significant enlargements and overall traffic by road has increased by a quarter.
FIA Clubs in Europe are key players in road safety. Based on their expertise in the areas of road user behaviour, vehicles and infrastructure, clubs have demonstrated that road safety improvements can be induced, even in the absence of legislation, by setting clear objectives and through benchmarking. Indeed the FIA was in the forefront of instilling competition in the field of road safety to stimulate meaningful results.
Enhancing their commitment in promoting road safety, FIA clubs have forged strong bonds with authorities and personalities at the highest political level. In 2009, FIA clubs co-organised the first ever Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety in Moscow, attended by Ministers from more than 70 countries. The outcome of this reflection on the current road death epidemic has been a global call for a Decade of Action for Road Safety. As a result, on 2nd March this year, a United Nations Resolution is expected to be adopted aiming at saving 700,000 lives per year by 2020.
After setting itself the target in 2001 to halve road deaths by 2010 the European Union achieved a reduction of 27% by 2008, a remarkable achievement. At the same time the European Union did not set such a target for severely injured road users. Between 2001 and 2008, the number of severely injured road users decreased by only 18% in the EU 27. A cornerstone for future road safety policy must therefore be setting a clear and measurable goal.
Other organisations also view ambitious targets as vital for reducing road deaths
Several members of the European Parliament signed a letter along with ETSC (European Transport Safety Council) sent to Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas asking the European Commission to set a target for reducing road deaths for 2011-2020. The initiative is based on concerns that the future European road safety action programme, to be presented by the Commission in the first half of this year, may not contain a target figure, unlike the current programme. The fact that the goal set for the current action programme – a 50% reduction in deaths on Europe’s roads between 2001 and 2010 – may not be reached prompts some to fear that the Commission may decide not to repeat the exercise. Failing to reach targets is not well looked upon even though there has been a significant decline in the number of road deaths in recent years.
Rather than risking a second failure, the Commission may simply decide not to set another specific target. Yet “a target is an essential element for motivating Member States to act”, according to ETSC. A target figure gives policy makers motivation, makes them accountable and gives meaning to national efforts. Isabelle Kardacz, head of the Road Safety Unit at the Commission’s DG Transport, voiced doubts about the need for a new target, speaking at a public lunch organised in mid-January. She referred to something vaguer, a “tendency” towards which the EU should strive, rather than a clearly defined target. A tendency will not save lives!