The number of road deaths in the EU increased slightly in 2015, according to new figures released by the European Commission.
The figures, published on on 31 March, show that during 2015 there were 26,000 deaths, up from 25,900 in 2014, and back to the same number recorded in 2013.
In addition, the Commission estimates that 135,000 people were seriously injured, with the ‘social cost’ of road fatalities and injuries predicted to be ‘at least €100bn’.
The EU has called the ‘stagnation’ in progress ‘alarming’, while the ETSC is demanding ‘urgent action’. The FIA says the figures are a ‘wake up call’ and is calling for more to be done to protect vulnerable road users.
The average fatality rate across the EU in 2015 was 51.5 road deaths per 1m inhabitants, a rate which has remained largely unchanged in the past two years. In the UK, that rate reduced by 1%, while Ireland saw a 15% fall. At 27%, the biggest increase was in Cyprus.
2015 was the first time since 2011, when the Commission set out its Road Safety Programme, that the number of fatalities rose across the EU. The programme aims to cut road deaths in Europe by half between 2011 and 2020.
The commission says the slowdown, which follows a significant reduction of 8% in 2012 and 2013, is due to several contributing factors including a ‘higher interaction between unprotected and motorised road users’.
Violeta Bulc, EU commissioner for transport, said: “We have achieved impressive results in reducing road fatalities over the last decades but the current stagnation is alarming.
“If Europe is to reach its objective of halving road fatalities by 2020, much more needs to be done. I invite Member States to step up efforts in terms of enforcement and campaigning.
“This may have a cost, but it is nothing compared to the €100 billion social cost of road fatalities and injuries.
“Technology and innovation are increasingly shaping the future of road safety. In the medium to long term, connected and automated driving, for instance, has great potential in helping to avoid crashes, and we are working hard to put the right framework in place.”
In response to the figures, the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) is demanding ‘urgent action’ from the Commission to introduce new road safety policy measures.
Antonio Avenoso, executive director of ETSC said: “Last year, the European Commission described the poor progress on road safety as a ‘wake-up call’.
“But 12 months later, four critical policy measures have been delayed. We hope that the announcement of today’s even more worrying figures will finally lead to some more concerted action.”
The FIA is calling for renewed efforts with regard to protecting vulnerable road users and addressing emerging risk factors such as the ‘increased distraction of traffic participants’.
Jacob Bangsgaard, FIA Region I Director General, said: “New challenges, such as driver distraction, are emerging today that are linked to a broader use of technology and should be addressed in their own right.
“However, low hanging fruit such as mandating existing safety technologies, improving the training of novice drivers and ensuring an adequate standard for our roads, would go a long way to improving the situation.”