The road toll in Europe has improved by 57 percent over a period of eleven years, according to an independent report from the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC).
While still more than 12,000 lives were lost on European Union and Swiss roads in 2012 - the most recent data available to the study - the figures mark a major improvement over the 28,000 road deaths recorded in 2001.
The Council said stricter safety measures across the Union were the key to the improved toll, but it was “simply wrong” that 12,000 people lost their lives for “mostly avoidable” reasons in 2012.
Some 1310 people died on Australian roads during the same year; a figure that improved to 1193 last year. (Note that the EU population is 25 times higher than Australia's population.)
Britain, The Netherlands and Switzerland have remarkably low road tolls, with only two deaths per one billion kilometres travelled, while Spain and Latvia saw the biggest improvements over the eleven years, with deaths cut by two thirds.
Poland had the worst figures from the countries analysed, with 11 deaths per one billion kilometres.
The EU plans to release its own report at the end of this year, outlining legislative changes to be implemented from 2015.
The ETSC is calling for compulsory seat belt reminders to form part of that legislation, saying 900 deaths could be avoided as only 88 percent of front seat and 74 percent of rear seat passengers are currently using seatbelts.
The Council is also calling for mandatory alcohol interlocks for repeat drink-driving offenders, claiming that 5600 fatalities are caused by drink-driving annually.
TOUGHER DRINK DRIVING LAWS FOR VICTORIA
As part of this week’s ‘Towards Zero Road Safety Leadership Symposium’, the state’s road minister Terry Mulder said high-range offenders will soon have their vehicles seized.
“For drivers who think they can drink and drive, we are also introducing impoundment or immobilisation of their vehicles if they are over 0.1,” Mr Mulder said.
The state government in Victoria has targeted a 30 percent reduction in serious injuries by 2022, and committed $1 billion over ten years to improve roads and intersections which the government deems to be ‘high risk’.