Aim and background
The principle aim of this ETSC activity was to raise awareness of the needs of vulnerable road users among EU policy makers such that they more readily accepted responsibility for the implementation of the measures necessary for the protection of cyclists and pedestrians.
The coalition included:
AGE - the European Older People's Platform
ANEC - the European consumer voice in standardisation
Health and Environment Alliance
European Child Safety Alliance
European Disability Forum
European Public Health Alliance
European Transport Safety Council
European Federation for Transport and Environment Voetgangersbeweging – Belgian Pedestrian Association
BEUC - The European Consumers Organisation
In light of the EU 3rd Road Safety Action Programme's call for the "sharing of responsibility", this campaign has reminded politicians, bureaucrats and industrialists of their own particular responsibility. It has called for the kind of political leadership that is necessary for decision makers to accept their responsibilities, an approach that has in the past paid large safety benefits.
Every year around 43.000 people are killed on EU roads, whilst more than three million are injured. Vulnerable road users, such as the cycling child, or the elderly pedestrian, are the most at risk. To transport policy makers the needs of these vulnerable travellers are frequently somewhat neglected if not forgotten: they have become the "forgotten travellers" of transport policy.
As a result of this neglect they are exposed to risks far above those of the average driver on European roads. For example 5% of road deaths in 2002 where children under 15 making road crashes the leading cause of death for children, whilst cycling and walking have a fatality risk per distance travelled 7-9 times higher than car travel.
But there are measures that can truly improve the situation of younger and older pedestrians and cyclists in Europe. Such measures would apply a systemic approach to road safety advocating effective and stronger enforcement of traffic laws, as well as measures improving the design and construction of vehicles and roads to account for human behaviour. Moreover, many of these solutions are ready for implementation, both from a technical and legal point of view. What is often missing is the political will from decision-makers in politics and industry who have been hesitant to accept their particular responsibility and make widely available what is already feasible. Without a will to accept responsibility by Europe's decision makers, there will be no lasting motivation to protect vulnerable road users alongside a tolerance of continued high levels of their injury and death.
VOICE Objectives and Activities
Against this background and with reference to the European Commission's call for sharing responsibility in road safety policy, the ETSC VOICE campaign had a set of four clearly defined objectives. Each of these objectives corresponded with a specific activity of the campaign.
To lobby EU policy makers to accept their responsibilities and for them to consider the needs of vulnerable road users (see The VOICE Network)
To highlight good and bad practice in road safety policy (see The VOICE Personality)
To push for full implementation of existing measures on the national level (see the VOICE Facts)
To improve (self-enforcing) road design in European Cities (see the VOICE Sites)
The VOICE Network: lobbying EU policy makers
ETSC has established a European Network of NGOs promoting the interests of vulnerable road users - VOICE. This network planed and directed common activities. The VOICE network:
Raised the profile of vulnerable road users and their needs among EU Policy makers.
Lobbyed EU policy makers on specific dossiers.
Provided the basis for a strong coalition to emerge from these different organisations such that their mutually supporting characteristics and expertise could benefit vulnerable road users.
The VOICE Personality: highlighting good and bad practice
On a bi-monthly basis, the VOICE Network identified one individual (manager, politician, bureaucrat) in Europe, who had recently acted "irresponsibly" by taking a decision or expressing an opinion or undertaking a behaviour (or failing to do something) that had a negative impact on the safety of vulnerable road users. At the same time and by way of comparison, individuals were praised when merited for their positive contribution to road safety and the protection of vulnerable road users.
The VOICE Facts: pushing for full implementation of existing measures
For the countries that were performing particularly badly in protecting vulnerable road users a fact sheet has been produced in the language of that country. Weighting linguistic, geographic, demographic factors with modal split and relative casualty rates for vulnerable road users identified the following 12 Countries:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Spain, UK
The fact sheets outlined a tool kit of measures that were yet to be implemented, or could be implemented better in that country. They were distributed to campaign groups within the country who are members of the European organisations cooperating in the VOICE network. They provide an information base upon which national campaigning could be founded. This activity also facilitated an analogous cooperation between NGOs at a national level to that at the European level in the VOICE network.
The VOICE Sites: improving (self-enforcing) road design
A series of location specific studies have been undertaken in the above mentioned 12 countries (one site per country), each of which highlighted a very specific infrastructure problem that placed vulnerable road users at risk. The studies were in-depth detailed assessments of specific (high-risk) sites and the needs for a specific policy intervention. The problems highlighted by these studies are mainly focused on infrastructure problems, but could also include other interventions that protected vulnerable road users such as a reduction in speed via lower speed limits and improved enforcement. The results of these studies have been presented to the local authorities and ETSC has asked for a commitment from local politicians to work towards the implementation of the proposed improvement. The results will have been displayed on ETSC's internet pages.