The existence of a national road safety strategy is a clear indicator that the
issue is high on the political agenda. A well-crafted plan is a tool for
authorities to identify the most relevant road safety actions, to focus their
work efficiently and to assign the necessary resources. It also facilitates
accountability and transparency, and helps to communicate road safety
priorities to citizens.
The existence of a national road safety strategy is a clear indicator that the issue is high on the political agenda. A well-crafted plan is a tool for authorities to identify the most relevant road safety actions, to focus their work efficiently and to assign the necessary resources. It also facilitates accountability and transparency, and helps to communicate road safety priorities to citizens.
However, this exercise is not compulsory, and there is no formal recommendation from the Commission to elaborate a plan. To date, 24 EU Member States have developed a national plan for road safety. Almost all of these target a reduction in road fatalities while about half have a target for reducing serious injuries, too.
In a follow-up to the Policy orientations on road safety 2011-2020, the European Commission started to analyse existing national road safety strategies in the EU. As plenty of good planning practices have been identified, such as applying the Safe System approach, using targets and performance indicators, or reporting successful road safety actions. As for the content of the plans, Member States must choose and prioritise those road safety actions that best respond to the main problems on their own roads.
According to the Safe System approach, a successful road safety strategy:
• Is based on a consistent vision or philosophy
• Makes use of lessons learnt in the past
• Identifies the main problems and addresses them
• Sets specific, relevant and realistic objectives
• Selects concrete, well-defined actions
• Defines resources and responsibilities for each action
• Uses follow-up mechanisms, i.e. clear performance indicators.
The Safe System approach to road safety should be a way to work towards Vision Zero. The two concepts are usually presented together. Originally, the Vision Zero concept referred to a societal commitment to work towards the objective of zero fatalities while the Safe System approach should be seen as a vision based on an ethical foundation, creating and supporting a totally new perspective, a paradigm shift, on the road safety problem and how to solve it.
EU targets for road deaths have been an important driver for the dramatic reductions noted in many EU countries. A European target for reducing serious road injuries is a simple, cheap and necessary step. Moreover, there is a strong economic case for this. Estimates show that, if all serious injuries recorded in 2010 could have been prevented, the benefits to society would have exceeded EUR 50 billion in that year. Today, a common definition and improved data-collection methods are in place.
Early in 2017, under the EU’s Maltese Presidency, the Commission coordinated Member States’ efforts to adopt the ‘Valletta Declaration on Road Safety’. The Declaration is a landmark achievement for road safety, with agreement on some very important topics, concerning serious injuries. It states: “The transport ministers will undertake to set a target of halving the number of serious injuries in the EU by 2030 from the 2020 baseline using this common definition and in the framework of an overall road safety strategy for this period.”
The European Commission will also introduce Key Performance Indicators in its new strategic framework for the period 2020-2030 with the aim of better understanding road safety trends and better targeting actions at European and national levels.
For more information, please consult the DG MOVE road safety newsletter at: