European People's Party MEP Koch, who is drafting a resolution on road safety for the European Parliament's transport committee, argued in an interview with EurActiv that in order to achieve a European Commission target of halving the death toll on European roads by 2020, it was necessary to appoint such a coordinator.
According to the Commission, road infrastructure and design are a contributing factor in one out of three fatal accidents.
Driven by the goal of cutting the number of deaths on European roads from roughly 40,000 a year in 2006 to 25,000 by 2010, the Commission tabled, in October 2006, legislative proposals to improve road infrastructure on the trans-European network – a move that it claimed could save 600 lives and prevent around 7,000 injuries annually.
The proposal foresaw that member states would have to carry out road-safety impact assessments and audits for all infrastructure projects, as well as routine safety inspections of roads and roadworks and yearly evaluations of the network.
If the Commission achieved its target for 2020 the number of road fatalities in the EU would drop below 18,000 per year.
Koch questioned the ethics of setting such targets, calling instead for the establishment of a long-term target of zero road deaths — an intiative which he said could be called "vision zero".
However, no matter what the target, in order to achieve it better coordination between all the various initiatives is required, he argued.
The MEP hopes to establish the post of coordinator by 2014 and imagines that the official could be at the level of director-general, reporting to Commission President José Manuel Barroso. He envisages the creation of a whole new Directorate-General to deal with mobility and offer an overarching approach to the issue.
Koch told EurActiv that more coordination is necessary between the different levels of governance at local, national and European level, but also between various policy sectors that affect road safety, such as financing, environment and the internal market.
According to Koch, the director-general for road safety would also liaise with non-EU countries on the issue and have the right to initiate legislation to enhance safety on European roads.
The proposal is part of Koch's draft resolution, which is yet to be adopted by the transport committee.
(In collaboration with Emilie Binois of autoactu.com)