The UK has only acheived a 7% reduction in Road Deaths between 2001-2005, compared with reductions of over 30% in France and Luxembourg. The UK now ranks 20th out of 27 countries in the Road Safety PIN report and significant further work is required according to the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), who publish the findings.
When looking at the results countries appear to have done better when there is concerted and joined-up political commitment around the issue of road safety. Raising compliance with the law has been key to the success in France and Luxembourg and a greater traffic officer presence has been instrumental in many countries. Infrastructure upgrades and the changing use of transport can also have a sizable impact.
When looking across the board of road safety interventions the UK does not perform as badly on seatbelt wearing rates as other countries, sporting an average wearing rates of 90% or more. Drink driving is however more of an issue. In the UK, reductions in drink driving deaths have not contributed enough to reducing road deaths. The UK has even seen a marginal increase in drink drive related deaths between 1996-1998 and 2005. However, caution needs to be taken in interpreting data as countries collect information about this issue in different ways. The Blood Alcohol Content accepted in the UK is significantly higher than Europe and many commentators believe this is one of the main reason for poor UK performance in this area.
On a positive note however, the report does find that speeds have dropped on urban roads in the UK much more significantly than in other countries. Overall, the report paints a picture of where improvements are required, particularly with regard to drink driving, and it is clear that better, more targeted enforcement by road traffic police is central to future improvements…a view strongly supported and campaigned for by the RAC Foundation. It also should be remembered that the UK has made significant progress and improvements in Road Safety up until 2000/01, meaning that there are possibly fewer improvements to make in comparison to other counties, which may go someway to explain why our reduction in road casualties is starting to slow. Future editions of this report will be vital in ensuring that the UK is keeping pace and learns from its EU neighbours.