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EU Transport Commissioner's warning on stalled progress in road casualty reduction
Read the full text of Mr Siim Kallas's speech in Brussels on 29 March 2012:
The new figures on EU road deaths for 2011 are a major cause for concern. The good news is that road deaths are still falling. There are countries like Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia, Hungary and Greece where very serious efforts have delivered positive results.
The bad news is that road deaths are falling more slowly. They were down only 2%last year. Normally it is about 6%.
We have had weaker years. But we have not seen this kind of pronounced 'slow down' before. Worse still, there are some large EU Member States, which normally have very good road safety records, where the trend is up!
Other Member States, who were already lagging behind in road safety, also showed increases last year. This is very worrying.
Finally, motorbikes remain a problem. EU road deaths have fallen over the last ten years, but not for motorbikes. There, the number of
deaths reminds the same. This is not acceptable.
Faced with these tendencies, what can we do? The results may be due to a complex mix of factors. There will be a more detailed analysis of the country figures in months to come and that may well tell us more.
In the meantime, these figures are a "wake up" call. 85 people still die on Europe's roads every day. It is not acceptable. We have made good progress since 2001. We have cut road deaths by almost 45%. We have saved more than 125,000 lives.
But we need to do more. We already have an ambitious Road Safety Action Plan which aims to cut road deaths in the EU by half by 2020. We need to work harder there.
In addition, this year, I want to focus efforts in two key areas:
1. First, I am concerned about enforcing rules at national level. The three big killers have not changed: drink driving, not wearing seat belts and speed (as well as ignoring red traffic signals). Tackling them has to be our priority.
But rules only work when they are enforced. That means constant checks and controls on the ground. And that takes resources. I am writing to Member States to ask for more information on national road safety enforcement plans and initiatives foreseen for 2012. In tough economic times, I want to be reassured that national cutbacks will not damage this important work.
2. Second, we need to cut motorbike deaths. This year, we will bring forward plans for regular technical checks on motorbikes, just
like we do for cars. That should cut the number of accidents due to technical faults. And we will soon have tighter rules to stop people getting access to big powerful motorbikes toosoon. The new rules will come into force in January next year (3rd EU Driving Licence Directive).
They will be strictly enforced. We need to see the number of motorbikes deaths go down.