New report says UK roads are still the safest in Europe

The UK’s road network continues to have the best safety record in Europe, according to new research.

The European Commission’s 2018 road safety statistics report shows the UK had fewer road deaths per million inhabitants than any other country in the European Union (EU). However, the average across all member nations decreased by just 1% last year, with more than 25,000 people killed on European roads.

That suggests the EU is a long way short of meeting the Commission’s aim of halving the number of road deaths from 2010 by 2020, as well as its long-term goal of close to zero fatalities and serious injuries by 2050.

“This is now the fifth year in a row that hardly any progress has been made,” said Antonio Avenoso, executive director of the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC).

“EU member states will have to take bold action: increasing levels of enforcement, taking meaningful steps to address speeding, drink/drug driving and distraction and ensuring that vulnerable road users get the safe infrastructure they need, particularly in our towns and cities.”

The report follows the recent passing of legislation that will require all new cars sold in the EU from 2022 to be fitted with a range of active safety systems, including intelligent speed limiters, in a bid to improve safety. New versions of existing models will need to incorporate the technology by 2024. The announcement has sparked debate in the industry over whether drivers are becoming over-reliant on electronic aids.

Volvo pre-empted the ruling last month by announcing that all of its new cars from 2020 will be limited to a 112mph top speed.

According to the Commission’s report, there were 28 road deaths per million inhabitants in the UK last year. Denmark (30) and the Republic of Ireland (31) were close behind. Romania had the highest fatality rate, with 96 deaths per million inhabitants, followed by Bulgaria (88), Latvia (78) and Croatia (77). Slovenia made the biggest reduction from 2017, with 13% fewer fatalities.