Car transport constitutes the most widely used mode of transport within the 27 member states of the EU (EU27) with a share of some 83.3 per cent of inland passenger transport in 2008. Despite a steady decrease in the number of road deaths across the EU, the need for a more comprehensive and multidimensional approach has become more apparent in recent years, since the EU objectives in the area have not been met. By bringing together all EU stakeholders responsible for the design of road safety policy, policy implementation and youth representatives, the EU Road Safety Day marks an important day in the future shaping of road safety policy. To commemorate the fourth EU Road Safety Day, the Cyprus Presidency is organising a conference in Lefkosia (Nicosia) on Wednesday.
In 2011, approximately 30,100 people were killed in the EU27 as a consequence of road collisions, while around 324,000 were seriously injured according to the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC). The 2011 figure on road deaths constitutes an average of 60 road deaths by million inhabitants, while it also indicates a 45 per cent decrease since 2001.
Road safety policies have achieved great progress in bringing down road death figures since the turn of the century. However, the statistics also paint an alarming picture concerning young drivers.
Road Safety and Youth
Around 140,000 young people, aged between 15 and 30, were killed in road collisions in the EU27 over the past decade, of which 81 per cent were male drivers.
While young people in this age group represent 20 per cent of the total EU population, they make up 30 per cent of all road deaths.
“Unfortunately, the link between road safety and youth already exists, but is of a tragic nature, since road collisions constitute the first cause of death for young people” said Mr George Morfakis, head of the road safety unit of the Cyprus Ministry of Communications and Works.
The EU has sought to address the correlation between road deaths and young people through various policies and targets, with an estimated 45,500 fewer road deaths among young people registered between 2001 and 2010. While this is a notable success, the EU is targeting the further development of its approach in order to lower the rate of road deaths as much as possible.
To this effect, the EU Road Safety Day is an important opportunity for developing this approach.
EU Road Safety Day
Over the years, the EU Road Safety Day has become a good opportunity for decision makers and relevant institutions to take stock, exchange views and devise new strategies in order to achieve their targets.
Since its establishment in 2007, the EU Road Safety Day and related events have proved useful fora for raising awareness of the challenges related to road safety.
Initiated by the European Commission and organised each year in collaboration with the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU, past EU Road Safety Days have focused on alcohol, drugs, traffic and education.
The central theme of this year’s conference is youth and its connection to road safety. The issues of vulnerable road users, life-long learning in driving and the relationship between police and youth on the road will be explored in depth.
The Cyprus Presidency is confident that through the subjects chosen, the Road Safety Day will provide a telling beginning for a change in road safety culture across the EU.
For Mr Morfakis, this year’s conference will enhance cooperation and communication between relevant stakeholders.
“Above all we aim to create networks of communication and information sharing between participants and of course to trigger the active participation of youth in road safety”, he stressed.
Europe 2020 and Road Safety
Europe 2020 is a ten-year strategy devised in 2010 by the European Commission which sets financial and social objectives for the upcoming decade. The policy orientations for 2020 with regard to road safety aim to provide a general governance framework. A target has also been set for a 50 per cent decrease in road deaths to 15,500 by 2020.
This mirrors the target of the previous decade, which aimed to bring down the number of road deaths by half; from 54,000 in 2001 to 27,000. Despite missing out on the target by almost 4,000, there is confidence that the Europe 2020 target can be achieved.
Each member state can devise its own national road safety strategy in order to address those areas where it does not fare well in road safety.