The European Traffic Police Network (TISPOL) today expresses its concern at the news that progress in cutting fatalities on Europe’s roads significantly slowed in 2011.
The organisation also pledges its support for EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas’s ‘wake-up call’ to ensure swift progress in reducing the number of people killed on Europe’s roads.
The overall figure shows a reduction of just 2% in the total number of people killed on Europe’s roads, according to figures published yesterday (March 29) by the European Union. This is in stark contrast to the yearly average of six per cent throughout the last decade.
Even more worrying is that there has been a significant increase in road deaths in some EU Member States with traditionally strong safety records. Other countries, where fatality rates were never among the best, have also seen rises in road fatalities in 2011.
Yesterday, EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said that although much has been achieved in recent years, the latest figures were ‘unacceptable’. “These figures are a "wake up call”. Eighty-five people still die on Europe's roads every day. It is not acceptable.
“We have made good progress since 2001 and have cut road deaths by almost 45%. We have saved more than 125,000 lives. But we need to do more,” he warned.
Kallas emphasised what he saw as the vital role of police enforcement. “I am concerned about enforcing rules at national level. The three big killers have not changed: drink driving, not wearing seat belts and speed. 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,” he said.
“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.”
TISPOL president Pasi Kemppainen said: “The police have a key role to play in helping to change road user behaviour. We can do this through education, backed up by enforcement for those who ignore the warnings. Mr Kallas is absolutely right in stating that laws must be effectively enforced.
“We cannot do this on our own. Enforcement is one of the core elements but we also need the support of other road safety stakeholders – in particular our politicians – who must give strong leadership. We need strong political willingness in all countries to make things happen, as we cannot tolerate the unnecessary loss of life and suffering on our roads.
“TISPOL is fully committed to working with others to reduce road deaths and to achieve the European Commission’s objective of cutting road fatalities in half by 2020.”