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Road safety: What does Brexit mean for road safety?

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By Ellie Pearson, professional engagement manager, Brake

General Safety Regulation EC 661/2009 on vehicle standards, Pedestrian Safety Regulation EC 78/2009, Regulation (EC) 561/2006, and Directive 2002/15/EC – these are just a few of the vital, lifesaving European Commission road safety regulations and requirements from which we benefit in the UK.

In addition, the EU sets the bar for limits on air pollution in cities, much of which is caused by traffic.

It’s more important than ever, with the World Health Organisation describing air quality as a public health emergency, that these controls are maintained, particularly when diesel vehicles have recently been found to be polluting far more on roads than under laboratory test conditions.

The EU air pollution limits led last year to a Supreme Court ruling against London for failing to stay within these targets, requiring London to comply.

As an outsider to Europe, we will have no such compulsion for London and our other growing cities to comply with nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and particulate matter levels set by Europe.

The EU also provides valuable opportunities for traffic enforcement and transport research agencies across the union to share best practice and knowledge and generally combine efforts to improve road safety measures and support the cross-border policing of traffic laws.

Europe-wide links regarding traffic enforcement have never been stronger, helping the fight against unsafe and illegally operated commercial vehicles in particular, but also enabling cross-border enforcement of driver licensing generally and the border-less campaigns against the Europe-wide scourge of alcohol and drug driving.

We must ensure as a nation that our expertise and voices are still heard as widely as possible to save as many lives as possible, and that we continue to learn from the best practice examples of our European neighbours.

Whatever you might think of the EU, it is undeniable that European Commission regulations and requirements have been instrumental in driving forward road safety and sustainability in the UK.

The challenge now is for the UK to continue to prioritise road safety and sustainability as we go it alone – and not just to meet EU standards, but to exceed them.

We must lead the way for Europe to follow.

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