The 8 keys to improve road safety in Europe

Last year around 20,600 people died in traffic accidents in the European Union (EU).

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
22 March 2023 Wednesday 00:07
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The 8 keys to improve road safety in Europe

Last year around 20,600 people died in traffic accidents in the European Union (EU). Although this figure represents an increase of 3% compared to 2021, there are 2,000 fewer fatalities (-10%) than in 2019, the year before the pandemic. Even so, this is still a very high number that makes the goal shared by the EU and the United Nations of reaching the magical figure of zero road deaths by 2050 a challenge.

To achieve this ambitious purpose, Brussels has launched a road safety program. The first stage will end in 2030 and aims to halve deaths and injuries caused by traffic accidents. The document defines the eight key performance indicators (in English, key performance indicators or KPIs) that assess the safety level of the four basic pillars of road safety: person, vehicle, infrastructure and post-accident care.

These KPIs help to better understand which factors directly affect road safety. They also serve to copy the most successful policies on the matter. If one or several countries obtain good results, it is a question of applying them in the rest of the member states.

The definition of the parameters is done in a positive sense, that is, their compliance is computed, and it is measured as a percentage. It would not help to do it in absolute figures because the values ​​(speeds, blood alcohol levels, etc.) vary between countries and would not be representative.

The study of the KPIs is part of the Baseline Project (2020-2022), based on which a common work methodology has been established for all countries. This project continues with a new phase, which runs from 2023 to 2025, called Trendilione, in which 25 European countries actively participate and several more as observers.

Once the project is finished, the Commission will evaluate national capacities to determine the type of support that each country needs, according to Álvaro Gómez, director of the National Road Safety Observatory of the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT), in statements to the magazine 'Traffic and Road Safety'. Spain collected six of the eight indicators defined by the European Commission for the Baseline Project.

These indicators are those that refer to speed, seat belt use and CRS, helmet use, alcohol consumption, handling of mobile devices and vehicle safety.

The two chapters that remain pending are the infrastructure safety indicator and the post-accident response indicator.

In the absence of knowing the final results, everything indicates that Spain will obtain good overall results in road safety, even in the areas that need to be improved, according to Gómez. "Our preliminary conclusion is that Spain occupies a good place in these areas, although we have also identified areas where the comparison with other countries is less positive and where, therefore, we must focus our efforts."