Car Free Day aims both to reduce the use of cars and to improve road safety. But, recent figures suggest that much more must be done to reduce the number of fatalities on EU roads. The European Transport Safety Council says potentially life-saving new technologies are under-used.
1295 cities will participate in Car Free Day – the highlight of this year’s European Mobility Week – on 22 September 2006.
The aim is to raise public awareness about the fact that reducing motorised traffic in cities can improve our quality of life by reducing congestion, pollution and the number of road accidents.
However, rather than going down, the number of cars in the EU increased by 38% in the EU25 over the past 15 years, reaching nearly one car for every two Europeans in 2004.
Despite this, the number of deaths due to road accidents dropped by roughly 60% over the same period, to 43,000 fatalities per year. Nevertheless, the EU is still a long way off its target of bringing that figure down to 25,000 by 2010.
Jörg Beckmann, executive director at the European Transport Safety Council says that more political leadership is needed to better enforce existing measures, especially across borders, and to introduce new technologies, such as alcohol interlocks and intelligent speed adaptation (ISA) systems (which automatically ensure compliance with speed limits).
Such technologies are already available and “offer the greatest safety potential”, he said, but added that “unfortunately [they] are not always given the top priority by policymakers…many deaths and injuries on European roads could be avoided if all countries implemented some of the most crucial and well-known measures”.
Read the full interview with Jörg Beckmann.