EU liberals push for safer vehicles, roads in bid to reduce traffic fatalities

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In 2019, the last known statistical year, the EU suffered 23,000 deaths in road accidents, and 120,000 injuries. For the liberal grouping in the European Parliament, Renew Europe, this slaughter on the European roads must come to an end. This is the focal point of the report on the EU’s political framework for road safety for the decade 2021-2030, adopted by the Parliamentary Transport Committee (TRAN), which makes a series of recommendations for achieving a “Vision Zero” of fatalities and serious injuries by 2050, based on three pillars: safer vehicles, safer roads and improved emergency services.

Ilhan Kyuchyuk (Movement for Rights and Freedoms, Bulgaria), shadow rapporteur for Renew Europe in TRAN, said: “The statistics are startling and we should not forget that behind the numbers there are people, lives lost, dreams shattered. This is an unacceptable and unnecessary human and social price to pay for mobility. The Renew Europe position is based on more intensive and cooperative efforts to develop strong European road safety policies with stakeholders, research and innovation support, in order to achieve better enforcement and crash response, ultimately aiming for sustainable and safe mobility in Europe.”

2,864 road accidents in Malta in first four months of the year

The latest data published by the NSO shows that the number of reported traffic accidents during first quarter of 2021 reached 2,864, down by 14.7 per cent over the same period in 2020. The Northern Harbour district registered the most accidents with 1,023 cases or 35.7 per cent of all accidents. Road traffic casualties decreased by 0.3 per cent to 305 over the same period in 2020. Grievously injured persons amounted to 81, and consisted of 52 drivers, 13 passengers and 16 pedestrians/cyclists/other.

The injuries suffered by one pedestrian proved fatal. During this quarter, one less fatality occurred when compared to the same period in 2020. The majority of those grievously injured were males (77.8 per cent), whereas the fatality that occurred during this quarter involved a female. Most of the casualties (60.0 per cent) involved persons in the 26 to 59 age-bracket.

Renew Europe insisted in particular on improving the enforcement of traffic rules, signs and signals and introducing self-enforcing roads, specifically in dangerous zones, with a prevalence of vulnerable road users. The Group also called for harmonisation of the national approaches to road safety, including extending the “EU Road Safety Exchange” programme and introducing key performance indicators for road safety. It also insisted on awareness raising and information campaigns as well as for securing effective follow-up victim support. Finally, Renew Europe urges the Member States to provide sufficient funding for upgrading emergency infrastructure, including for air medical services, especially for remote, mountainous and island regions.

New regulations to come in place from 2022

In recent years, the EU has introduced a range of mandatory measures, which contributed to an estimated reduction of 50,000 fatal traffic casualties per year. These measures include electronic stability control systems on all vehicles, as well as advanced emergency braking systems and lane departure warning systems on trucks and buses. New safety features will become mandatory from 2022, with the exception of direct vision for trucks and buses and enlarged head impact zone on cars and vans, which will follow later due to the necessary structural design changes.