Press Notice
Thursday 13 January 2000


MEPs AND ETSC CALL ON EU TRANSPORT COMMISSIONER TO TAKE EFFECTIVE ACTION ON ROAD SAFETY

Events

The Portuguese Prime Minister and the President of the European Commission agreed this week that road safety would be a top transport priority for the next six months.

In a meeting next week with the Transport Commissioner, Mrs Loyola de Palacio, European Parliamentarians and ETSC will urge her to adopt an EU-wide strategy implementing a range of demonstrably effective legislative and non-legislative actions to cut road deaths from 43,000 to 25,000 annually. This package should include two new Directives introducing:

  • An upper legal blood alcohol limit of 0.50 promille to save around 1,000 lives annually which is strongly supported by EU drivers according to EU-funded surveys

  • Mandatory crash tests for safer car fronts for pedestrians and cyclists on new designs (to save 2,000 deaths and prevent 19,000 severe injuries).

Both of these were already agreed, in principle, three years ago by the European Commission for implementation in the 1997-2001 action programme.

Giving cross-party Parliamentary support to ETSCís call Mark Watts MEP (PSE) and Dieter Koch MEP (EPP) said: "The European Parliament has for some time, put road safety at the top of its priority list for transport policy. It is now time for the other EU institutions to demonstrate that political will really exists. We have recently adopted a specific budget for transport safety. We now need to set EU targets to save lives and to implement a package of proven measures."

Jeanne Breen, ETSCís Executive Director said: "Road crashes are the leading cause of death for EU citizens up to 45 years of age. They cost twice the EU budget for all its activity. One in 3 people in their lifetime will need hospital treatment after a road crash. The scope and potential impact of EU action to address this largely avoidable problem is considerable."

 

ETSCís RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACTION INCLUDE:

  • An upper legal blood alcohol limit of 0.50 promille (to save around 1,000 out of the 9,000 lives lost annually in alcohol related crashes which is strongly supported by EU drivers according to EU-funded surveys).

  • Mandatory crash tests for safer car fronts for pedestrians and cyclists on new designs (to save 2,000 deaths and prevent 19,000 severe injuries).

  • Mandatory fitment of smart audible seat belt warning devices on new cars with progressively louder signals when seat belts are not used. 7,000 lives could be saved if the worst belt wearing rates in the EU were brought up to the level of the best.

  • Further support for the European New Car Assessment crash information programme which is stimulating improvements in car occupant crash protection.

  • Mandatory fitment of daytime running lights on motorcycles, in the first instance, to help reduce the high fatal injury risk of motorcycle travel, currently 20 times more dangerous than car travel.

  • An upper blood alcohol limit of 0.20 promille for learner drivers. There are 10,000 EU deaths annually in the 15-24 year old age group.

  • A series of EU road safety guidelines on important road safety activity for voluntary use by road safety professionals.

  • An EU road safety information system to include EU crash and casualty data, national traffic data, regulations important for safety, national best practice guidelines and results from EU demonstration projects.

Further information is available on measures referred to in this Press Notice:

Jeanne Breen, ETSC + 32 (0)2 230 4106

Dr.Dieter Koch MEP (D) + 32 (0)2 284 5761

Mark Watts MEP (UK) + 32 (0)2 284 5568 or + 44 1 795 477 880

Editors notes

  • The EU has exclusive Single Market legislative powers for car and motorcycle standards. Article 71 of the Maastricht Treaty states that the EU shall introduce measures on transport safety. The EU has a separate budget line for transport safety.

  • ETSC is the Brussels-based NGO established since 1993 which brings together national and international organisations and a large network of independent transport safety experts from across the EU to identify and promote effective measures to reduce transport accident casualties. It receives funding from the European Commission, its membership and from public and private sector sponsorship.
  • In February 1997, ETSC produced ĎA strategic road safety plan for the European Unioní available from the secretariat, setting out more fully the range of research-based measures and appropriate EU actions which could be taken to improve road safety.
  • ĎSafer transport in Europe: tools for decision-makingí. Professor Murray Mackay OBE, FREng, DSc, Board Member of ETSC will present the 2nd European Transport Safety Lecture in which these issues will be expanded on 25th January in Brussels.