On March 28-29 the Maltese Presidency of the EU, along with the European Commission, organised a High-Level Stakeholder and Ministerial Conference in Malta on Road Safety. A key concern was the disappointing stagnation in progress towards road casualty reduction in many countries of the European Union in 2014-15: 26,100 people perished and many more where seriously injured in the EU in 2015, at an economic cost to member states of more than 100 billion.
Participants in the event included government ministers, NGOs and other stakeholders from across the EU, including EASST Director Emma MacLennan. On March 28th an open session was held in which the stakeholder group identified key pressure points in the road safety system where action could be taken in order to maximise improvements. These were discussed in groups, and recommendations were drawn up for presentation to the Ministerial conference on the 29th. The recommendations included:
- Road safety strategies and policies (link to report)
- Enforcement of traffic rules (link to report)
- Infrastructure safety (link to report)
- Smart vehicles and roads (link to report)
- Vulnerable road users (link to report)
As a result of the Conference, the EU Valletta Declaration on Road Safety was endorsed setting out priorities for member states. These include a renewed commitment to the target of halving road deaths by 2020 from the 2010 baseline, and a new commitment to reducing road injuries by half by 2030.
Coinciding with the conference, new data has been published showing some recent progress in reducing fatalities, with an overall EU drop in road deaths of 2% in 2016. Since 2010 fatalities have been reduced in the EU by 19%, with strong reductions in some countries.
Country by country statistics show particular reductions for Greece, of interest to EASST partners Make Roads Safe Hellas. However the OECD Road Safety Annual Report for 2016 cites the Greek economic downturn as playing a major role in this decline. Cyclists and motorcyclists are particularly at risk. More work is needed in Greece – and across all the EU – to reduce the number of road casualties by 2020.
The Valetta Declaration provides hope that EU member states will make road safety a priority. EASST partners will continue to advocate to ensure their countries remain on course.