In 2010, the EU set an ambitious goal of halving traffic deaths in 2020. As part of these ongoing efforts to increase road safety, on Thursday the European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc published a report on road safety. The 2015 statistics indicate the EU has a long way to go in reaching its road safety goals. After improvements in 2012 and 2013, this year the EU showed no improvement over 2014 statistics. The 26,000 road fatalities in 2015 is 5,500 fewer than in 2010. In addition to the human cost, Commissioner Bulc placed the monetary cost of road fatalities and injuries at over €100 billion.

The European Commission’s strategy to improve road safety focuses on three main areas: enforcement of traffic laws, exchange of knowledge and information between EU members, and technologies such as connected cars and autonomous vehicles. Commissioner Bulc also called on member states to increase awareness and education of road safety.

The EU has long expressed its commitment to including connected and autonomous vehicles as a central component of its road safety plans. Commissioner Bulc said “Technology and innovation are increasingly shaping the future of road safety. In the medium to long term, connected and automated driving, for instance, has great potential in helping to avoid crashes, and we are working hard to put the right framework in place.”

As part of this effort, the report called out several specific technologies and initiatives, including:

  • eCall: As previously written about on the blog, the EU is requiring all new vehicles to be fitted with the eCall system in March 2018. In the event of a serious accident, the eCall system automatically dials emergency services in the event of a serious road accident.
  • C-ITS: The Commissioner also reiterated the Commission’s plans to release a master plan later this year for cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (“C-ITS”)-“a two-way communication between vehicles, with and between road infrastructure.” The Commission previously released the final report on the C-ITS Deployment Platform on January 21, 2016 laying out the shared vision of interoperable deployment of C-ITS in the EU. As part of its C-ITS strategy, the European Commission is in the process of testing certain vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle interaction pilot projects.
  • GEAR 2030: This is a European Commission initiative “to boost competitiveness and growth in the automotive sector.” One of the three areas of work for GEAR 2030 is automated and connected vehicles, and working toward a roadmap for the rollout of autonomous vehicles in Europe. GEAR 2030 estimates that 90% of road fatalities are human error, a number which could be significantly improved through technology.

As each of these plans develop, the European Commission is hoping to see significant improvement in road safety across the EU.