Around 1,900 people were killed on motorways in the EU in 2013 and as many as 60% of those were not wearing a seatbelt, according to analysis published today (5 Mar) by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC).
On the back of the findings the ETSC is calling on the EU to require the mandatory installation of intelligent seat belt reminder systems (SBR) for all passenger seats in new cars. Currently this is only required for driver seats.
The EU is currently undertaking a review of the safety requirements that all new vehicles sold in Europe must comply with. The rules were last updated in 2009 and a new proposal is expected later this year.
As part of the review, ETSC is also recommending the EU requires the installation of intelligent speed assistance (ISA) and lane departure warning systems (LDWS) in new vehicles.
ISA is an overridable in-car system that uses GPS data and sign-recognition cameras to help drivers adhere to speed limits which, according to ETSC, “could cut deaths overall by 20%”.
LDW systems, which alert the driver if they drift out of their lane (a sign of fatigue or distraction), are already mandatory for new lorries and buses.
Antonio Avenoso, executive director of ETSC, said: “Technologies that can step in to help the driver avoid catastrophe have the potential to save thousands of lives on our roads.”
The ETSC report also found that between 2004 and 2013 in the EU, Lithuania achieved the best average year-on-year reduction in deaths on motorways (-20%), followed by Slovakia (-14%) and Spain (-13%). Denmark, Austria, Great Britain, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Italy achieved better reductions than the EU average. Poland also managed to cut deaths despite quadrupling the length of its motorway network over the same period from 400km to 1500km.
For countries where death rates can be calculated based on traffic volume, the worst performing countries have a risk factor four times higher than the best countries. Denmark, Great Britain, Sweden and the Netherlands have the safest motorways while those in Poland, Hungary and Lithuania have the highest level of risk.