Women drivers are safer on roads and could help to fix Europe’s bad record on vehicle-related deaths, EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc told reporters today (26 October).
“Women drivers take care of vehicles better, have a better record of safe driving and maybe it’s time we do a proper analysis of that,” Bulc said.
Women are underrepresented in Europe’s transport industry, according to annual statistics that Bulc presented today ranking the state of transport in the 28 EU member countries.
The Commission shamed EU countries earlier this year for a slight increase in the number of road deaths in 2015, compared to 2014. Bulc called that trend “worrying”.
The executive pledged to cut the number of road deaths in half by 2020, compared to 2010 levels. In 2010, there were 31,400 deaths from road collisions in the EU. 26,000 people were killed on roads in 2015.
Young male drivers cause a disproportionate amount of road deaths, but are also more at risk of being seriously injured or killed by a car collision, according to a 2015 study from the European Transport Safety Council.
“Young drivers, especially males, are not just a danger to themselves; they also pose a greater risk to their passengers and other road users than all other age groups,” the study reads.
Bulc has previously said heralded driverless cars as a potential fix for Europe’s stagnating road death problem. But totally driverless cars won’t be available for purchase in Europe within the next few years.
The Netherlands topped the Commission’s transport rankings for the third year running.
Romania, which was put last in the list for the second time in a row, got lower marks for its share of alternative fuels and renewable energy in the transport sector compared to the 2014 rankings. Deaths on roads and railways are higher than the EU average in Romania, with a total of 95 fatalities per million residents caused by car crashes last year. The EU average was 52 deaths per million people.
Bulc’s native Slovenia didn’t fare well in the rankings either, dropping a staggering ten spots from the Commission’s 2014 transport survey.
“I share a bit of frustration. Slovenia is not doing that well in this year’s list,” Bulc said.
Slovenia has one of Europe’s lowest rates of women employed in the transport sector. The number of road deaths also increased between 2014 and 2015, from 52 to 58 per million residents.
In 2001, the European Commission adopted an action programme with the objective of halving the number of road fatalities by 2010, from around 40,000 per year. The programme was broadly successful, resulting in a reduction of casualties to over 35,000 in 2009, which is the equivalent of a medium-sized town.
The programme has since been replaced by a new one running until 2020, with seven strategic objectives. Measures include mandatory safety measures for vehicles, safer road infrastructure, better safety enforcement and a focus on motorcyclists.
The Commission wants to halve the number of road deaths in the EU between 2010 and 2020. As of the end of 2015, the figure had only dropped by 17%.