While remaining ‘relatively safe’ in comparison to other European countries, a new report has highlighted the ‘disappointing progress’ made by the UK in reducing casualties since 2010.
The 14th Road Safety Performance Index Report, produced by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), compares statistics from 32 European countries – including the 27 EU member states.
It shows that of the countries monitored, 16 recorded a year-on-year fall in road deaths in 2019 – with the ‘best results’ achieved by Luxembourg (39%), Sweden (32%) and Estonia (22%).
Looking at longer term trends, the report states that the EU, and its member states, will ‘almost certainly’ miss their target to cut road deaths by half in the decade to 2020.
It highlights that since 2010, EU countries achieved an overall reduction in road deaths of 24%, which equates to a 2.7% annual average reduction
Meanwhile over that period, the UK* – described as one of Europe’s traditional leaders on road safety – is one of three countries where road fatalities have actually increased (by 1.1%), along with the Netherlands (3.3%) and Malta (6.7%).
However, at 29 road deaths per million inhabitants – the UK remains one of the safest European countries, behind Norway (20), Sweden (22) and Switzerland (22).
The 2020 ETSC Road Safety Performance Index (PIN) Award – which recognises a nation that has demonstrated ‘continued progress on road safety’ – has been awarded to Estonia, in recognition of its 22% year-on-year reduction in fatalities.
Antonio Avenoso, executive director of the ETSC, said: “While progress across Europe has disappointed over the last nine years, some countries have been quietly undergoing a road safety revolution.
“We’re delighted to award Estonia this year for its remarkable progress, following Ireland’s win in 2019.”
Looking forward, the ETSC says it expects a ‘significant drop’ in road deaths in 2020, as a result of Covid-19 lockdown policies.
It also predicts road safety in the EU is ‘likely to see a boost’ over the next decade – thanks to new legislation on minimum vehicle and infrastructure safety standards agreed last year.
Despite this, it calls on countries to ‘step up a gear’ to hit the new target to halve road deaths by 2030.
Antonio Avenoso added: “The recent response to the Covid-19 epidemic may signal a way forward.
“A dramatic shift to walking and cycling in urban areas, combined with infrastructure changes and lower speed limits, could have a massive impact on road death and injury. But if we just revert to business-as-usual after this crisis, the results could be even worse than before.
“There are danger signs already in the large numbers of speeding offences being reported as lockdowns are lifted, which only adds to the work of overstretched police and emergency services.”
*The UK’s 2019 estimate is based on the Great Britain provisional total for the year ending June 2019 – and the final 2019 data for Northern Ireland.