Europe’s public health professionals call for road safety targets

12.00 | 2 November 2016 | | 6 comments

The European Union should urgently introduce a new target and measures to cut serious road injuries, according to public health and medical experts from across Europe. (ETSC)

The health professionals expressed their views in a letter sent on 25 October to Jean Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission.

The public health stakeholders, led by the European Public Health Alliance, say the figure of 135,000 seriously injured people on Europe’s roads in 2014 reflects the ‘enormous toll’ that road collisions take on individuals, families and health services.

They say the majority of these collisions are preventable, and the severity of many could be reduced by measures such as better pedestrian protection design on new vehicles ,and ensuring seat belt use by all passengers through the use of seat-belt reminder warning systems on all seats.

The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) says EC proposals for a serious injury target and new vehicle safety standards have been ‘dogged by continuous delays and are now long overdue’.

The ETSC also says more needs to be done to encourage manufacturers to install full Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) which ‘actively helps prevent the driver from speeding’.

ETSC says the latest results from Euro NCAP show few new models offer the more advanced version of the technology – which has the ‘potential to prevent significantly more deaths than the warning-only function’.

Antonio Avenoso, executive director of ETSC said: “ISA has much more life-saving potential when the car limits the speed automatically. It’s important that the European Commission makes an overridable form of ISA mandatory on all new cars when vehicle safety rules are revised over the next year.”


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    The Police do not play a major role in collision reductions.

    They merely react and report on those incidents that they are called to and then look subjectively at it and not objectively. They do not necessarily complete the stats as complete as they should and many do not require informative matters that are not taken into consideration ie some questions are not asked and no doubt in some cases some presumptions are made that could be misleading.

    Bob Craven Lancs
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    My experience over the last 10 years is that the quality of stats 19 personal injury collision data collected by police forces is barely adequate at best and getting worse not better. Fat chance of adding any meaningful ‘damage only’ stats to a failing system, however useful they might be.

    Pat, Wales
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    As not all collisions result in injuries or hospital visits, wouldn’t a better indicator of collisions be insurance companies’ records – for both damage to vehicles and property? Not all come to the attention of the insurers of course, but it still might be more comprehensive.

    Recently there was a bad collision in my area where both vehicles suffered extensive damage (and presumably involving an insurance claim), but no injuries, so it would not even be recorded officially as having happened, but the cause(s) would have been the same if it had resulted in a fatality. Sometimes it’s just down to luck.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    If we are to have road safety targets then, at the very least, the group that collects the data must be separate from those tasked with achieving the targets. As the Police play a major role in collision reduction, STATS19 cannot be used as the measure of the targets. I would suggest using hospital data as the measure.

    But road safety targets on their own may be counter productive, we need funding to go with them and we also need a new evidence-led approach. If we start using RCT scientific trials, we might improve road safety and, most importantly, we will be able to prove that our policies are effective. That proof will lead to consensus and confidence and both of those will generate support. That really would be an outcome worth achieving.

    Dave Finney, Slough
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    ISA could well increase casualties as it works on the prevailing speed limit rather than on the appropriate speed in any given circumstances. It may mean, for example, that drivers who would otherwise choose a lower speed as an appropriate speed may be coerced into driving at the much higher speed limit. Outside schools for example, where although 20mph may be the legal limit, 10mph or less is probably the maximum appropriate speed at certain times of the day.

    Charles, England
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    I agree with ETSC’s latest call for specific road casualty reduction targets. Well I would wouldn’t I, since we already have them in Wales and targets focus the mind. However as a driver I don’t share the same enthusiasm for Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA). It seem too much like ‘big brother’ (Orwell not the tv programme) in the car for my liking.

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