The European Parliament has voted to back a document setting out the institution’s views on the EU road safety strategy for the next ten years.
The Parliament’s report follows the publication of the European Commission’s ten year road safety plan, which was published back in June 2019, and an outline of planned legislative measures announced in the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy published in December last year.
MEPs have endorsed the overall EU strategy, with the headline targets to cut serious injuries and deaths by 50% by 2030, along with the vision zero and ‘safe system’ approach.
The Parliament also supports the setting up of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for road safety and says outcome targets should be set by 2023.
The Parliament’s work on the report was led by Elena Kountoura, a Greek MEP and former Minister of Tourism. Introducing the debate she said: “We are facing an emergency which needs immediate action.”
Responding to MEPs in a debate session last week, Commissioner Helena Dalli, speaking on behalf of the Commissioner for Transport Adina Valean, said the European Commission would respond to the calls for action in the report. Specifically, Ms Dalli referenced ongoing work to prepare the revision of EU laws on driving licenses and cross-border enforcement of traffic offences. Ms Dalli said the Commission is also ‘looking closely’ into the issues of speed and drink-driving and was reflecting on EU recommendations to address them. She said that: “the EC takes note of the EP’s position on speed” and that “the EC is assessing gains for road safety of cities who set 30km maximum speed limit in residential areas.”
The Commissioner also referenced calls for a new EU road safety agency and an EU year of action on the issue of road safety. The Commission “recognised the potential benefits of both, but needed to consider the cost”, she commented.
ETSC Policy Director Ellen Townsend said: “This report by MEPs reflects many of the concerns of EU citizens on road safety, especially in urban areas where inappropriate speed and ineffective infrastructure are problems that have come into sharp focus as more people took to walking and cycling during the pandemic. Action to improve road safety should be a central part of the upcoming urban mobility package.
“We have seen bold action on vehicle safety from the EU in the last couple of years. We want the European Commission to step up and deliver now on other measures like updated advice on speed and drink-driving limits and consider the need to tackle drug driving and distracted driving as well. Longer term projects such as a new road safety agency need urgency to have an impact any time before 2030.”
What’s in the European Parliament road safety report?
The report says infrastructure spending should prioritise projects with the greatest potential safety benefits, in reference to an upcoming revision of the EU framework for development of the Trans-European Networks for Transport (TEN-T).
MEPs also want the European Commission to help ensure cycling infrastructure put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic becomes permanent and to develop quality requirements for walking and cycling infrastructure as well as common EU curricula for road infrastructure auditors and inspectors, including specific training on the needs of vulnerable road users.
The Parliament calls on the European Commission to propose a new harmonised regulatory framework for automated cars in order to ensure that they will operate safely, in particular concerning their interaction with conventional vehicles and vulnerable road users.
MEPs also want the Commission to evaluate existing driving assistance systems, amid concerns over driver overreliance and distraction.
Drink and Drug Driving
MEPs say that the current recommendation on Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limits for drivers should be updated to reflect a zero-tolerance approach – and that the same should apply to drug driving rules.
The Parliament says that the European Commission should propose a set of recommended speed limits to encourage member states to apply the safest limits for different road types.
European Transport Safety Council October 2021