• EU road safety plan includes van speed limiters

    The Commission has launched its road safety programme for 2011-20, with a commitment to halve road deaths. The programme also contains the first official suggestion that the EU should consider obligatory speed limiters for vans, something T&E has been calling for.

    [mailchimp_signup][/mailchimp_signup]The road safety programme includes a proposal for targets to reduce road injuries being set at EU level, and features a series of ‘policy recommendations’ on improving road safety for pedestrians and cyclists. But it says that actions aimed at reducing injury risks that go beyond existing legislation ‘will need to be examined’.

    The European Transport Safety Council welcomed the targets but said the measures announced ‘call seriously into question the chances of reaching (the target)’.

    T&E welcomed the inclusion of speed limiters for vans, one of the only concrete policy proposals included in the paper. T&E said such a move would bring small commercial vehicles into line with larger commercial vehicles and buses.

    The programme also suggests more could be done on cycling. It says: ‘Given the significant environmental, climate, congestion and public health benefits of cycling, it merits reflection whether more could not be done in this area.’ This has been cautiously welcomed by the European Cyclists Federation (ECF), though it fears the actions proposed in the programme lack teeth, and it criticises the absence of a top-priority commitment to tackle speeding.

    An independent review of why cycling has been much more popular in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands than in other EU countries says lack of safety and inconvenience are often cited as important barriers to cycling.

    The report ‘Making Cycling Irresistible’ says Danish, Dutch and German authorities have actively worked to overcome safety obstacles, such as creating separate cycle paths, modified road junctions and 30 km/h speed limits. It says the number of cycle deaths per 100 million kilometres cycled is 5.8 in the USA and 3.6 in Great Britain, where 1% of total trips are made by bicycle, while in the Netherlands, it is just 1.1, even though 27% of trips are made by bike and very few cycles wear safety helmets.