The traffic fatality figures in many countries of the world demonstrate the scale of the challenge associated with improving road safety over the long term. While the EU once again saw a decline in the number of fatalities on its roads in 2016, the number of fatalities in, for example, the USA rose sharply. And according to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 1.25 million people are still losing their lives on the roads every year, all over the world. “Tremendous effort is still needed if we are to achieve this target,” said Clemens Klinke, member of the DEKRA SE Management Board and in charge of the Automotive business unit, at the presentation of the DEKRA Road Safety Report 2017. DEKRA released its first report back in 2008, and the focus of this year’s report is on “best practices” from all over the world.
At first glance, the figures for the EU give cause for optimism: Around 25,500 traffic fatalities in the member states in 2016 means a decline compared with the previous year of 2.3%; over the last six years, the number of traffic fatalities in the EU has fallen by 19%. However, the figures for 2016 vary considerably among the individual member states. In Germany, for example, around 3,200 people were killed in road accidents, a decline of 7.3% compared with 2015, while France, according to the Observatoire national interministériel de la sécurité routière (ONISR), saw a rise in the number of traffic fatalities for the third year in succession – even if by “only” 0.2% from 3,461 to 3,469. And in the USA, the National Safety Council estimated a rise in the number of traffic fatalities in 2016 to more than 40,000. Back in 2015, the USA were already seeing a 7.5% increase.
Given that every traffic fatality is one traffic fatality too many, improving road safety remains one of the greatest challenges our society faces – and this applies all the more when you look at the scale of the problem not on a country-by-country basis, but globally. “It is more important than ever that we look at ways of countering these trends efficiently and over the long term in order to finally bring about a significant improvement in the situation,” said Clemens Klinke during a Parliamentary Evening at Baden-Württemberg’s state offices in Berlin, where the report was presented. An effective approach might be, he continued, to focus on “best practices,” an approach that has been applied in the study of road safety for many years now. Specifically, this means applying measures that have proven successful in certain regions of the world and could potentially help to reduce the number of road traffic fatalities and injuries elsewhere.
Looking at the human factor, vehicle technology and infrastructure as well as all road user groups, the DEKRA Road Safety Report 2017 provides a range of examples from different countries all over the world. It demonstrates the myriad potential measures that could be implemented to achieve “Vision Zero” – that is, safe roads on which nobody dies or is seriously injured in accidents.
Informative statistics as a basis for planning measures
Before setting about planning and implementing their various strategies, however, the bodies responsible have to ask themselves, for example, in what geographical area the measures are effective; what the current situation is; how durable the measures are expected to be; how many accidents can be avoided or their severity reduced; how measures are influenced by other measures; and how the measures affect non-traffic-related aspects. It should also not be forgotten that when it comes to evaluating road safety and implementing appropriate optimization measures, real-life accident data plays a key role. “This is why it is vital that the availability of well-founded accident data and statistics that are comparable to the greatest possible extent be improved internationally,” said DEKRA Management Board member Klinke. There are still big differences from country to country in the way that this data is gathered and in the volume of data available.
A sense of responsibility and an acceptance of rules
Nowadays, many politicians as well as the automotive and supplier industry see the increasing equipment of vehicles with systems enabling partially, highly and fully automated driving as one of the solutions to the challenges associated with achieving greater road safety in the more heavily motorized regions of the world. There is no doubt that these systems (in addition to assisted-driving systems) installed in vehicles of all kinds will play an ever-bigger role in making our roads safer. Nonetheless, none of this should absolve the most important factor in road safety of their responsibility for what happens on the roads: Humans are – and will remain – the decisive element. “Responsible behavior coupled with a proper assessment of one’s own capabilities and a high level of acceptance of the rules of the road are, and will remain, the most important criteria for reducing the number of traffic fatalities on our roads,” said Klinke, providing his listeners with food for thought.
DEKRA’s commitment to greater road safety
Like the preceding reports since 2008, the latest DEKRA Road Safety Report is also much more than a collection of facts about the current state of affairs. It provides food for thought and specific recommendations for action for politicians, traffic experts, manufacturers, scientific institutions and associations. It is also meant to act as an essential companion for all road users.
DEKRA has been committed to improving road safety for over 90 years. The expert organization was one of the first signatories of the European Road Safety Charter and is just as unwavering in its support of the EU’s action program to once more halve the number of deaths caused by road accidents by 2020. In national and international bodies, DEKRA’s experts are highly valued as partners in dialog.
DEKRA’s Road Safety Report 2017 is available online for download and for browsing at www.dekra.de/verkehrssicherheitsreport-2017. The DEKRA online portal, which can be accessed at www.dekra-roadsafety.com, contains more detailed information on the content of the printed report, including in the form of videos or interactive graphics.
DEKRA’s demands for greater road safety