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A decline in police enforcement is affecting road safety

22 June 2016

Declines in the level of police enforcement of traffic offences are contributing to Europe’s failure to cut the numbers dying in road collisions, according to the European Transport Safety Council, authors of two new reports on road safety.

More than 26,000 people died on EU roads last year, the first increase since 2001 according to the ETSC annual road safety performance index (PIN) report. Exceeding speed limits, drink or distracted driving and a failure to wear a seat belt are still the leading causes of death and serious injury across Europe, according to the researchers.

In a separate report on enforcement, ETSC found that, in over half the countries where data is available, the number of tickets issued over the last five years for use of a mobile phone while driving has reduced, suggesting lower levels of enforcement across Europe.

Antonio Avenoso, Executive Director of the European Transport Safety Council said, “Cuts to police enforcement are doubly damaging. Fewer dangerous drivers are caught, and overall perception of the risk of being caught also decreases. While there is increasing pressure to reprioritise policing budgets across Europe, it makes no sense to cut back on road safety. 26,000 are still dying each year on our roads, and the numbers will not start to decrease again without concerted action.”

On drink driving, half of the countries that provided data showed a decrease in the number of enforcement checks since 2010, and half showed an increase. The number of alcohol road-side checks grew by 39% each year in Poland, 24% in Estonia and 12% in Portugal. The number of alcohol checks dropped by 13% annually in Sweden, 10% in Cyprus and 5% in England and Wales. It is estimated that up to 2% of distance travelled in the EU is driven with an illegal Blood Alcohol Concentration but a quarter of all road deaths in the EU are alcohol related.


 

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