Reuil Malmaison, 30 June 2023
Across much of Europe, we have made significant progress in terms of road safety over the past two decades – road traffic fatalities have fallen by two thirds since 2000. But the rate of improvement has stalled recently, with half of European countries even posting increased vehicle-related fatalities in 2021. In spite of vast improvements to vehicle safety, we are not yet on the trajectory set out by “Vision Zero” – the European Union’s aim to reduce Road Safety deaths by half through the end of 2030 and to zero by 2050.
Protecting human lives and livelihoods disproportionately contributes to economic and social gain. What’s more, improving road safety and reducing emissions are both clear commitments made within the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
And it simply makes sense; it’s the humane thing to do.
This is why we felt it important to write this paper now – to reemphasize the urgency of this problem, highlight the key levers, and outline opportunities for improvement.
Key to understanding road safety, is recognizing all the elements involved. Human behavior may result in the vast majority of casualties, but road safety is not about assigning blame, or just improving drivers. Vision Zero cannot be achieved by simply adding more driver assistance systems or implementing stricter penalties on drivers. Thinking systemically about road safety means understanding all contributors to it.
Four key elements make up the road safety “system”:
1. Human behavior,
3. Infrastructure, and
4. The policy and regulatory ecosystem, including enforcement.
We will address each of these throughout this paper, across various transport types, and in several European countries. We’ll take a short look into the history of road safety across Europe, but will focus much more on present, planned, and recommended activities through the end of this decade. Through a series of unique interviews with road safety leaders across Europe, we have also secured some exclusive insights – and are deeply grateful for the time they have invested.
As is customary for our series, we place a unique focus on an enormously powerful lever in road safety: the corporate vehicle user. We will conclude this paper with specific suggestions on what a mobility manager can affect to promote road safety for their own users, as well as the road ecosystem.
A webinar on this topic took place on the 30th of June 2023. The replay is available below: