FIA Repeats Call to Vice President Barrot to Halve Deaths on Europe's Roads
Submitted: Wednesday, June 14th 2006
EU Guidelines on Road Infrastructure Safety Management: If road deaths are to be halved in Europe, make roads themselves safer
EU-wide legislation is needed to start eradicating high-risk roads if road safety targets are to be hit, according to an FIA response to European Commission proposals on safer road infrastructure* and in a letter to European Commission Vice-President, Mr Jacques Barrot.
“Guidelines alone will not be enough to halve road deaths by 2010,” says Johann Grill, Director General of FIA Brussels. “Early action to make safe the high-risk sections of the Trans-European Road Network (TERN) would prove to be a practical, high-profile example for all EU states. It would also give a powerful signal that the EC is as committed to imposing safety targets for roads themselves as it is to driver and vehicle safety.”
In countries where ‘safer driver’ and ‘safer car’ campaigns have proved successful, research from the European Road Assessment Programme (EuroRAP) shows that investment in ‘safer roads’ initiatives can save more lives than similar investment in driver and vehicle safety measures. The huge human and economic (€160 billion) cost of road accidents demands that road safety remains a high priority for the EU.
Providing roads that are designed to prevent accidents and to be forgiving once accidents do happen is vital to successful completion of the EU road safety strategy. Safety must be prioritised at all stages of road development: planning, design, construction and operation, as well as maintenance. Road authorities, builders and operators must accept that responsibility for providing safe roads requires the same duty of care that exists for other transport modes. And safety must be a key condition for future EU funding of the TERN.
Consumer testing and benchmarking programmes for roads themselves will raise consumer awareness and stimulate road safety improvements, just as EuroNCAP tests have done for car safety. Equally, the European Tunnel Assessment Programme (EuroTAP), which benchmarks quality and safety of major road tunnels, shows how legislation can work to give road users the objective safety information they deserve on their travels. This could work for the open road too, through a partnership with EuroRAP to assess the safety performance of the TERN and to set measurable benchmarks.
The EC must also act to guarantee that publicly-funded data on the safety performance of roads are made available in all member states for assessment by independent experts – and to ensure that road authorities can be held to account. Details of crashes, accidents and traffic flows must not be viewed as something ‘owned’ by operators. Realistic estimations of fatality risk rates are essential if crash ‘black spots’ are to be identified and made safer. Member states and agents operating on their behalf should grant open access to their entire network, in particular allowing inspections in public and privately operated tunnels.
Guaranteeing safety, transparency and public information must be the main priorities of this directive if the road user is to be truly placed at the heart of EU road safety policy.
Note to the Editors
The FIA via its affiliated members, national motoring and touring organisations represents more than 100 million motorists worldwide and more than 40 million citizens in the EU 25.
On several occasions the FIA has stressed to European Commission Vice-President Jacques Barrot the crucial need for safer roads while calling for legislation to lead to a rapid improvement of road infrastructure.
For further details contact the FIA European Bureau