European Commission Proposes Legal Action to Reduce Road Traffic Accident Fatalities

by Personal Injury Claims Blawg on June 5, 2018

A key priority of the European Commission’s recently announced Third Mobility Package is to bring about a significant reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured through road traffic accidents across Europe.

In support of this aim, the Package includes a proposal that within three years all new vehicles brought to the market must have 11 advanced safety features fitted as standard, such as advanced emergency braking, lane-keeping system, over-ridable intelligent speed assistance or driver’s distraction recognition.

Road Casualty Figures

Figures from the Commission show that as many as 25,300 people were killed on EU roads in 2017 and another 135,000 were seriously injured. It claims that its proposals, which also include support for Member States to identify dangerous road sections and to target investment more effectively, could save up to 10,500 lives and avoid close to 60,000 serious injuries over 2020-2030. This would bring the EU closer to achieving its long-term goal of moving close to zero fatalities and serious injuries by 2050.

In addition to its proposals on mandatory safety features for vehicles, the Mobility Package also includes a strategy on automated and connected mobility systems, which covers the development of fully autonomous vehicles. The Commission believes that higher levels of automation in vehicles could help to compensate for driver error and therefore improve safety for all road users. It acknowledges however that autonomous vehicles also bring their own set of safety concerns that will need to be addressed.

Criticism over Lack of Progress

The Commission’s proposals have been warmly received by safety organisations across Europe, many of which have been critical of the lack of recent progress in reducing road casualties. The 23,500 fatalities that occurred in 2017 amounted to a 20% reduction compared to 2010’s figures, however in recent years reductions have stalled, with no significant improvement in fatality numbers since 2013.

“Taken together, today’s announcements could represent the biggest step forward in road safety in Europe since the introduction of the seat belt,” commented Antonio Avenoso, Executive Director of the European Transport Safety Council. “Road traffic injury is still the number one killer of young people across the continent so these essential measures cannot come soon enough.”

“Today’s announcements alone will not make the difference; it is absolutely crucial that EU Member States and the European Parliament give their backing to the plans and that they do not give in to pressure from car manufacturers, who are already attempting to weaken parts of the vehicle safety proposal.”

Vehicle Safety Features Must be Mandatory

Road safety organisation Brake is another body that has welcomed the proposals, and in particular the idea that the inclusion of safety technology should be mandatory for vehicle manufacturers, rather than leaving it for drivers to select and pay for these features.

It recently conducted a survey of drivers in the UK, which found that nine out of ten drivers were in agreement with the principle that all new cars should be fitted with the latest lifesaving safety features as standard. However, the majority also said that if they were buying a new car, they would not spend more to ensure it had AEB or ISA technology.

“These technologies are proven to save lives, so this announcement should be warmly welcomed by all who are truly committed to improving road safety,” said Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at road safety charity Brake. “Drivers want their vehicles to be safe, but the reality is they rarely opt to spend more on safety features as optional extras. This decision puts the onus for safety back on the car manufacturers and in one swoop, will dramatically improve the safety of our roads forever.”

Personal Injury Claims Blawg

Personal Injury Claims Blawg

PI claims blogger at PIClaimsBlawg
Personal Injury Claims Blawg is a personal injury law blog, inviting contributions from practitioners, PI law firms and legal academics across the UK, US and beyond. The post above has been published because of the high value associated with the author's work. Contact us if you'd like to get published today.
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