New EU road safety figures show Sweden finally has its Vision Zero back on track and that, despite fears, the UK improved its record last year. It was a good year for Ireland too.
Also, will Belgium be ready for the launch of its new electronic truck toll system tomorrow? And, a record Good Friday for Eurotunnel as it warns of another busy weekend. Passive stoner driver banned for three years in Denmark. More migrant trouble in Calais.
HIGHLIGHTS OF EU ROAD SAFETY STATISTICS 2015
Another mixed bag but Malta stays at the top.
For the second year running, Malta has the safest roads in the EU despite a 10% increase in road deaths last year.
That mixed picture is emblematic of the EU as a whole. It has the safest roads in the world but the figures are heading in the wrong direction, though not quite so dramatically as the little Mediterranean island.
Statistics published by the European Commission today show road deaths in the EU increased by 1 percent last year compared to 2014, to around 26,000.
This equates to 51.5 road deaths per million inhabitants, the ‘road safety measure’, up 0.5 on 2014, and compares to 106 per million in the United States and 174 per million worldwide.
After decreases of 8 percent in 2012 and 2013, last year is the second consecutive year of near stagnant results.
‘We have achieved impressive results in reducing road fatalities over the last decades but the current stagnation is alarming,’ said EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc.
‘If Europe is to reach its objective of halving road fatalities by 2020, much more needs to be done. I invite Member States to step up efforts in terms of enforcement and campaigning.’
Of the big countries, Sweden finally managed to reverse a long slide. It cut deaths by 2 percent to 27 per million to claim second place (1 per million behind Malta).
It puts the Scandinavian country’s Vision Zero campaign – which it markets very successfully around the world – back on track, though its road death rate shows no gain overall since 2010.
In third place is the Netherlands which has published its road safety stats alongside other EU countries for the first time this year. It too remains stagnant at 28 per million.
Meanwhile, despite a fall in road deaths of 1 percent, the UK stays at 29 per million and takes fourth place.
There were widespread fears the British figures would worsen after a well-publicised fall in the number of traffic police.
Moving up into the top group for the first time is Denmark with a significant 8 percent cut to 30 per million.
Spain, which has made significant gains in recent years, will be disappointed to stick at 36 per million, now alongside Ireland which cut road deaths by an impressive 15 percent in 2015.
France remains above the EU average at 54. Other outliers in Western Europe include Belgium at 67, after a 4% rise last year, and Luxembourg at 58 – though the Grand Duchy cut deaths by 9 percent. Its first fixed speed cameras which recently came on stream will see that drop further this year.
Germany bumbles along at 43 deaths per million after a 3% increase last year.
At the other end of the spectrum there are clearly issues in the Baltic States. Latvia (94) and Lithuania (82) came third and fourth from bottom – despite cuts in deaths of around 10% each – though Estonia (after a 15% cut) comes in at an almost respectable 50 deaths per million inhabitants.
Poland has made good strides in recent years. From a death rate of 102 in 2010, last year that came down to 77.
At the bottom of the pile are Romania and Bulgaria, tied at 95 deaths per million inhabitants, and both with 4 percent year-on-year increases.
Romania can blame the lack of a decent motorway network (fast roads claim just 7 percent of EU roads deaths according Commission figures). It’s not clear what Bulgaria’s excuse is yet.
roundup: CROSSING THE CHANNEL. Eurotunnel enjoyed a record Good Friday on 25 March carrying nearly 12,000 vehicles from the UK to France and 3000 in the opposite direction. Freight traffic also set another record in January and February at 267,000 vehicles transported it says. The news comes as the Channel Tunnel operator warns of another busy weekend for vehicles returning to the UK. It says its pre-check in ‘Welcome Area’ is likely to be activated in France on Saturday and Sunday (2-3 April) – though Flexiplus passengers proceed directly to check-in. Border controls have seen customers waiting up to two hours to board trains recently with queues building steadily throughout the day. Meanwhile, as the school holidays kick off in France, traffic warnings have been issued for Burgundy in the north east and the Rhone-Alpes region in the south east for Saturday. ‘It will be advisable to avoid the A6 between Beaune and Lyon, A7 in the Rhone valley and the A71 southbound from Orleans between 10.00 am and 4:00 p.m,’ says Bison Fute. DENMARK. A driver has been banned for three years for driving under the influence of cannabis despite not smoking any reports The Copenhagen Post. The man argued it was a passenger in his car who smoked while he was only a passive bystander, so to speak, but the Supreme Court ruled against. Denmark has famously tight drug driving laws. Drivers face harsh penalties for having any amount in their system, despite the drug being detectable for up to eight weeks after last use. A committee of MPs asked the government to devise a ‘more sustainable solution’ last May but clearly it is not in sight yet. CALAIS MIGRANT CRISIS. A young Afghan migrant was killed in an apparent hit-and-run accident with a truck on the A16 early this morning. It comes after a group of up to 300 migrants blocked the A216 port access road yesterday afternoon. The road was closed for several hours into the early evening with passengers diverting through the town centre. A similar incident also occurred this afternoon, though much shorter lived. These are the first migrant incidents near the port since the Jungle camp was dismantled and moved further away last month. The RHA Road Haulage Association alleges yesterday’s incidents were bound up with France’s national strike day and asks why trucks were left unprotected. A Slovakian driver has since been taken into custody in connection with the alleged hit-and-run incident according to La Voix du Nord.