International data

Road Safety Performance Index – Flash 1
ETSC, Brussels, 18th July, 2006

The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) on 7 June 2006 has launched a new policy instrument to help EU Member States in improving road safety - The Road Safety Performance Index (so-called “Road Safety PIN”). The Road Safety PIN will compare Member States’ performance in promoting safe road user behavior, infrastructure and vehicles, as well as sound and evidence-based policymaking. It receives financial support from Swedish Road Administration and Toyota Motor Europe.

Ranking European countries’ policies in relevant areas will help national policymakers to identify fields in which better progress is possible. It will help to identify best practice and create positive competition between countries to deliver a safer road transport system. This will be another element in building up the kind of political leadership that is needed to achieve lasting improvement in road safety.

The Road Safety PIN is run by a Secretariat based at the ETSC. The Secretariat draws on the knowledge and experience of a Panel of 27 experts, including one from every EU Member State, Norway and Switzerland. The 27 Panelists support the Secretariat with collecting relevant data and disseminating the findings. They came together for the first time on 7 June 2006 following the official launch of the Road Safety PIN to discuss the proposed set of indicators to be covered in the first phase.

Cross-country comparisons will be published four times a year in the series of Road Safety PIN Flashes. In addition, the PIN Secretariat will publish an annual report that will be launched at an international conference. In conjunction with that event, ETSC will also award a Road Safety PIN award to a high level policymaker responsible for the best performing country’s road safety policy. More>>

Road Safety Performance Index – Flash 2
ETSC, Brussels, 26th September, 2006

The EU target is achievable ... for all countries

EU transport ministers have set themselves the target of cutting annual road deaths by 50% between 2001 and 2010. A first review carried out by the European Commission at the beginning of 2006 has found that traffic deaths in the EU have dropped by only 17-18%.

This first ranking under the Road Safety Performance Index (PIN) shows that some countries are contributing fully to the European target even though the majorities do not. This ranking is based on the best-trusted road safety figure: a count of deaths.

Over the last four years, France has achieved an outstanding 35% drop, closely followed by Luxembourg with 34%. In Belgium, the reduction has been of the order of 27%. Also countries like Portugal, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and – maybe – Italy are on track to reaching the target. They have all been able to reduce road deaths by more than 20% up to 2005. This Road Safety PIN Flash 2 presents these developments and their background.

France, Luxembourg and Belgium all used to be above the average of EU death rates. By 2005, they moved up from the last to the second third of the league, confirming that progress can be achieved quickly by underperformers. This is also true for Portugal. But also Sweden and the Netherlands, as well as Switzerland, have been able to improve quickly. These countries have been frontrunners in Europe for a long time. Still, they scored reductions between 24% and 25% over the last four years, showing that it is possible to make great progress even for countries that are top performers already.

Denmark and Germany each reached a 23% decrease. If the trend of the last years continues, Denmark, Germany and Italy (where the 2005 figure is still not available) will also be able to cut road deaths by 50% until 2010.

Some countries have not recorded any progress over the last years. In Lithuania, which holds the worst safety record overall, the situation has not picked up sustainable since the mid-nineties. Hungary, a country that used to be a fast improver in the 1990s, has not recovered from a sharp increase in 2002, when an increase in general speed limits outside urban areas took its toll (see figure). In Ireland, traffic deaths are on the rise following a positive development in 2002 and 2003. Poland has not made any noteworthy progress in the last years though there has been improvement in 2005. More>>

Road Safety Performance Index – Flash 3
ETSC, Brussels, 25th October, 2006

The Seat belt reminders for all cars in Europe

Latest studies have shown that advanced seat belt reminders, which fulfill Euro NCAP test criteria, can get up to 99% of drivers to use their seat belt. A great many deaths and serious injuries could be prevented if 99% of drivers in Europe wore their seat belt. Experience shows that even in the best-performing countries, no more than 97% of drivers use their seat belt, despite the legal obligation that holds in all EU countries to wear the seat belt on all journeys. Among passengers and rear seat occupants the wearing rates are even lower.

Recent research suggests that the risk of dying in a crash can be reduced by up to 60% by using the seat belt. Moreover, important safety features such as airbags work best if occupants are restrained by their seatbelts. Still, seat belt wearing rates vary greatly among countries. They are especially low on the rear seats and in urban areas. Among car occupants involved in fatal and serious injury crashes, seat belt use is even lower.

Most non-users are not against seat belt use but either forget to buckle up or do not wear it in what they consider to be low-risk situations. These part-time users’ (but not the ‘hard-core non users’) can be convinced by seat belt reminder system to use their belt.

This new ranking under the Road Safety Performance Index (PIN) shows that some countries reach a high penetration rate of seat belt reminders in new cars. In Sweden, nearly 70% of new passenger cars were equipped with seat belt reminders for the driver seat in 2005. In Luxembourg, this was 64% and in Germany 63%.

The proportion of new cars sold in the whole of Europe that are equipped with seat belt reminders for the driver seat is estimated to be 56%. In the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Lithuania, Italy and Greece, this is less than half of the new passenger cars. More>>

Road Safety Performance Index – Flash 4
ETSC, Brussels, 22nd February, 2007

Increasing seat belt use…

While it is important to prevent traffic crashes from happening, it is also important to take measures to mitigate the impact of crashes on the people involved. Human beings are fallible and everyone can be involved in an accident so the importance of the – so-called “passive” – protection in crashes cannot be underestimated.

The seat belt is the single most effective feature in the car to fulfill this role. Using the seat belt reduces the risk of dying in a serious crash, which would normally lead to fatal injury, by about 50%. This is why the European Union has passed legislation making seat belt wearing obligatory in all seats where belts are available.

Yet seat belt usage varies considerably among European countries, and generally falls short of providing the protection it could afford to car users. In this third ranking under the Road Safety Performance Index (PIN), countries are compared in relation to how many people seated in the front of cars use their safety belt.

The ranking shows that in 2005, the highest proportion of users of safety belts in the front seats was recorded in France, Germany and Malta which show rates of over 95% seat belt use. In Sweden, Norway, the U.K. and the Netherlands the proportion of front seat occupants wearing the seat belt was 90% and higher. More>>

Road Safety Performance Index – Flash 5
ETSC, Brussels, 17th April, 2007

Reducing deaths from drink driving

This fourth ranking under the Road Safety Performance Index (PIN) looks at European countries’ progress in reducing deaths from drink driving crashes, compared with progress in reducing other deaths, using each country’s own method of identifying drink driving deaths. It shows that over the last decade, progress on drink driving has contributed most to overall reductions in deaths in the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland.

In the Czech Republic, road deaths from drink driving crashes dropped 11.3% faster than deaths from other crashes. For Germany, this figure is 6.2% and for Poland 5.6%.

Only about half of the 18 countries covered in this ranking have succeeded in reducing deaths from drink driving crashes at the same pace or faster than other deaths. In the other half of countries, changes in drink driving deaths have not contributed their share to overall reductions in traffic deaths but rather slowed down overall progress.

The report also points to the alarming lack of knowledge surrounding the issue of drink driving. It shows that only 18 from 27 countries are able to produce data that allow monitoring of the drink driving situation over time. More>>
Road Traffic Research Ltd, 2007