Press Notice
Monday 17th May 1999


Executive Summary
Full report (.pdf format)

Professional experts and Parliamentarians at a Brussels Conference today hosted by ETSC and police organisations are calling for more police enforcement for road safety and greater take up of cost-effective, publicly acceptable strategies.

Launching a new ETSC review on police enforcement and road safety prepared by experts from across the European Union, Jeanne Breen ETSC Executive Director said: "Traffic offences are the major contributory factor to road crashes and injuries. Yet, relatively little is being done to prevent road users from committing offences. While traffic levels continue to rise, several EU countries appear to be devoting fewer resources to traffic policing than they were several years ago. If demonstrably effective policing activity was pursued more widely across Europe then road injury crashes could be reduced by 50 per cent."

Mark Watts MEP (PSE. Kent East, UK), Co-Chairman of ETSC's Main Council said: "A recent study of EU-wide driver opinion found that 70 per cent were in favour of more traffic regulation enforcement being carried out. Effective strategies typically involve highly visible police or camera activity and these can bring about important reductions in crashes. Where there is high visibility policing and use of cameras, public response tends to be favourable. The brother that is watching you seems to be preferred to the brother that may be killing you ! "

Professor Talib Rothengatter (NL), Chair of the ETSC Working Party producing the review said: The main objective of traffic regulation enforcement is road safety - achieved by deterring road users from committing offences which contribute to road crashes and injuries. It is not to maximise the number of infringement notices issued. The large body of information brought together in our review confirms that police enforcement can be highly cost-effective. Our main proposals for action are as follows:

In each Member State:

  • Set specific national targets for compliance with key traffic offences which influence road safety on the basis of crash data (e.g. 95 per cent seat belt use).
  • Integrate enforcement into the national road safety policy.
  • Formulate effective, feasible police enforcement strategies; specify the means, methods and resource to be allocated based on research results. Increase effectiveness of deterrence and detection by allowing random breath testing and camera evidence for offences such as speeding, red light running and tailgating.
  • Identify offences to be dealt with under administrative rather than criminal law.
  • Obtain explicit agreements between the policymakers, police, prosecuting bodies) about the follow up to the detection of offences.
  • Develop information and training for police enforcement staff.

In the European Union:

  • Encourage and support the setting up of a traffic police network in Europe.
  • Continue to support information exchange on best practice.
  • Set up an EU-wide monitoring research project to allow objective comparison of the incidence of specific offences and the incidence of crashes related to these offences".


EXCESS SPEED Reducing average speeds by 1 km/h would lead to a 4% decrease in crashes. Stationary speed checks

Speed cameras
-6% casualties
-14% deaths

-28% urban casualties
Between 3-12:1

5:1 (first year)
25:1 (five years)
EXCESS ALCOHOL 30% of casualties are alcohol-related Random evidential breath testing at roadside checkpoints at least 1 in 10 drivers every year, 1 in 3 drivers = best practice -20% in alcohol-related crashes 19:1
NON-USE OF SEAT BELTS There are 25000 car occupant deaths across the EU, but not all occupants wear belts in front seats and fewer wear belts in rear seat. 'Blitz' enforcement, usually lasting 1-4 weeks and repeated several times a year 7000 lives across EU could be saved if wearing rates matched best rates internationally At least 3 :1
NON-USE OF SEAT BELTS Technological solutions will be needed to reach the last 10-20 per cent of unbelted occupants Seat belt warning devices fitted to cars A further 3000 lives could be saved with 100% use. 100:1
PRIORITY OR "RIGHT OF WAY" OFFENCES Failure to observe the priority or right of way of other road users comprises about 50% of urban road crashes E.g. Red light cameras -18% crashes at high risk traffic light sites 2:1 (first year)
12:1(five years)

For further information or a copy of the full text of this review, from which this table is derived, contact:
ETSC Brussels office: + 32 (0)2 230 4106