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Revamping EU road safety policy

Publication date: 08 September 2009

Everyone has been waiting for the launch of a revamped EU road safety policy. Proposals could arrive in Spring 2010 for adoption before the end of next year.
The fourth European Road Safety Action Programme should run from 2011 until 2020 and will set overall guidelines for actions in the field. Before finalizing the action plan - and EU policy-making is a long-winded process - the Commission will consult stakeholders. It will then submit its action programme to the European Parliament and member states.  
"We expect an ambitious plan to come out of this review process. We know that road safety needs high level commitment, strong leadership, clear objectives and precise targets. This needs to be taken into consideration at all the stages of the process when developing the future road safety policy framework," said Werner Kraus, Chairman of the FIA Eurocouncil.
The word out in Brussels is that the forthcoming action plan would define new targets, not just for road deaths but also for injuries. The Commission is also expected to call for integrating road safety approaches across different government departments such as justice, education, health and more. The policy should no longer be isolated.
Priority in the plan would go to those measures with most promise. According to the Commission, this includes better protecting vulnerable road users/participants such as children, older persons, pedestrians, bicyclists and moped drivers. Other areas include car technology and management, driver training and control, life-long driver training, social factors, professional driving, education of driver trainers as well as older drivers. The Commission is also looking at priority aspects such as implementation of the 2008 EU Directive on road infrastructure safety management, social costs of accidents, communication policy and other awareness-building tools like the European Road Safety Charter and Internet.
The next European Road Safety Action Plan is an opportunity for the EU and member states to establish leadership, accountability and promote additional action in the field. Clubs in Europe have brainstormed about ways forward for road safety. That was at a workshop back at the November 2008 Verona International Road Safety Exhibition. The FIA European Bureau is currently preparing a Roadmap to Road Safety 2020.
The FIA Eurocouncil has also long been warning decision-makers that Europe needs to seriously update policy if it wants to keep pushing down road fatalities and injuries. We cannot rest on its laurels even if, over eight years, Europe has reduced its fatalities by more than a quarter. Injuries are down by around a tenth in a period when overall road traffic increased by a quarter.
"Europe has come a long way in reducing road deaths. This effort has to be pursued and strengthened where needed," said Kraus. Some of the problem areas are reducing the continuing high number of European citizens who die on the roads - an annual figure of 40,000. The FIA Eurocouncil also wants more done to make sure that improvements are equally distributed over the EU and the significant gap between East and West is closed.
When taking part in the official consultation, the FIA European Bureau will make more specific demands to the Commission. One such demand is tapping into the considerable life-saving potential of road infrastructure safety. Improving infrastructure could prevent up to one-third of Europe's serious injuries or fatalities on the roads in the next decade. FIA clubs in Europe have therefore called for a European-wide safe road infrastructure programme that makes safe road design a national priority. "The consultation is an excellent opportunity for clubs to voice their concerns and bring in their expertise into the EU policy process," concludes Olivier Lenz, Mobility Director.

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