Ellen Townsend, European Transport Safety Council, discusses work related road safety and road safety in the EU
2010 is a crucial year for road safety. The target to halve road deaths set in 2001 by the EU is due for revision this year. With it comes the development of a new road safety action programme from the European Commission setting out new priority measures for further reducing road deaths with a target for 2020. Much more can still be gained in the next decade to improve road safety in the realm of work related road safety. A new project called Preventing Road Accidents and Injuries for the Safety of Employees (PRAISE) set up by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) aims to do this. One part of the project is a competition for employers; the first winner was awarded on 6 May to BT.
PRAISE aims to increase road safety in the work context and “praise” best practices in order to help employers secure high road safety standards for their employees. It is estimated that in Europe six out of ten work accidents resulting in death are road crashes, including both crashes while driving for work and commuting crashes.
The annual PRAISE Award competition aims to spur on companies throughout the EU to tackle road safety at work. Entrants were asked to show what they have achieved through their efforts to reduce road collisions at work. ETSC’s panel of judges evaluated entrants based on a number of criteria including evidence of progress, road safety target setting and sustainability of their work. The ‘PRAISE Award’ was presented to BT who had been identified for taking on the road safety challenge responsibly. ETSC also recognised the efforts made by other employers to improve work related road safety. Entrants included 14 companies, both SMEs and bigger employers that have all contributed to reducing their employees’ road risk in recent years. For a list of companies that entered in the 2010 competition see next page.
Since BT’s Health and Safety Group identified driving as its biggest and most expensive risk in 2003 the company developed a strategic program leading to a range of ground-breaking initiatives to manage driver safety. BT’s Safety Advisor for travel and transport, Tony Holt stressed that that there are no silver bullets in fleet safety. For this reason BT has taken a holistic approach based on a clear application of well researched policies, procedures and processes. BT’s road safety initatives include for example: extensive driver assesment and training, collision investigations, safe vehicle selection, and the trialing of technological interventions such as telematics. BT exchanged best practice with other companies committed to road safety at ETSC’s PRAISE Brunch Seminar. The next annual PRAISE award will be launched in the autumn paving the way for a new round of employers keen to show that they are willing to make extra efforts in improving their road safety record. Deadline for entrants will be 1 April 2011 with information posted on ETSC’s PRAISE website.
The PRAISE Award 2010 was presented at ETSC’s first PRAISE Brunch seminar. The Seminar also discussed findings of ETSC’s first three PRAISE Reports covering workplace health promotion, risk assessment and driver training and the benefit of using in-vehicle technologies in fleet vehicles. ETSC invited representatives from the European Commission, Brian Simpson, MEP and Chair of the Transport Committee of the European Parliament, a representative of the EU Presidency holder Spain, and a representative from EU-OSHA to discuss measures to improve work related road safety.
The next PRAISE seminar will take place in Barcelona on 14 June and will look at what is the state of play on work related road safety in Spain in comarison to what is happening in other countries. The seminar is being organised together with the Spanish Government, the current EU Presidency holder, and the MAPFRE Foundation, another co-funder of the project.
With this background ETSC also launched its 16th Road Safety PIN Flash in May. This publication measured EU countries’ progress since 2001 in tackling excessive speed, drink driving and non-use of seat belts, which remain the three main killers on EU roads. Progress made in improving compliance could have a high life saving effect also on those driving for work as well.
Data from the countries that monitor mean driving speeds in free-flowing traffic show that drivers have slowed down appreciably since 2001. Best progress has been made on motorways, where ‘only’ up to 30 per cent of drivers now exceed the speed limit. Unfortunately, speed violations are still up to 70 per cent on rural roads and as many as 80 per cent on urban roads.
France is the only country to have achieved considerable reductions in mean speeds on all types of roads. Average speeds have been cut by 10 km/h (or 11.6 per cent) between 2001 and 2009. Great Britain and Austria recorded reductions in mean speeds on both urban roads and motorways. Key factors in achieving progress were automated speed enforcement schemes based on safety cameras and stricter sanctions like penalty point systems and higher fines. Germany, Greece, Malta, Italy, Portugal and Slovakia do not monitor mean speeds on their roads, which deprives them of important feedback on the effectiveness of their actions.
More than 2,200 road deaths could be prevented each year if average driving speeds dropped by only 1 km/h on all roads across the EU, according to ETSC estimates. The EU should adopt the Cross Border Enforcement Directive to address speeding in the EU without delay.
Deaths attributed to drink driving have decreased somewhat faster than other road deaths since 2001 in the EU – by about 5.8 per cent against 4.2 per cent on average each year. However, a massive underreporting distorts the real picture: it is estimated that alcohol related deaths make up to 25 per cent of all road deaths against 11.5 per cent according to official statistics.
The EU should promote consistent and visible enforcement as powerful deterrents to drink driving and adopt a 0.2g/l BAC limit for commercial and novice drivers. However, despite an increase in a number of countries, alcohol checks are still too rare an experience for most drivers. The EU should support the introduction of alcolocks, in rehabilitation programmes and for fleet drivers; this could further reduce drink driving and complement zero tolerance of drink driving by all drivers as represented by roadside police checks.
Although obligatory in all Member States, seat belt use in light vehicles in the EU is estimated to be only 88 per cent for front seats and as low as 72 per cent for rear seats. Some progress has been made, but wearing rates are still disturbingly low in many Eastern and Southern European countries. France, Germany, Sweden the UK and the Netherlands have the highest seat belt wearing rates, 95 per cent and higher, for drivers and front seat passengers, while in Hungary, Slovakia, Greece and Italy rates are below 80 per cent. For rear seat passengers the disparities between countries are much bigger: from over 80 per cent in Germany, Finland, UK, France, Spain and the Netherlands, all the way down to under 30 per cent in Cyprus, Greece, Malta and Latvia.
Seat belt reminders are a powerful tool in bringing up the rate of seat belts use. Across the EU, an estimated 12,400 occupants of light vehicles survived serious crashes in 2009 because they wore a seat belt. Another 2,500 deaths could have been prevented if 99 per cent of occupants had been wearing a seat belt, a rate that could be reached with seat belt reminders. The EU should support the extension of seat belt reminders to all seats without delay from the current target of introducing them to the driver seat in all new vehicles from 2011.
In conclusion, as the EU finalises its next Road Safety Action Programme ETSC hopes that focus on three key areas are included; increasing compliance with safe speed limits, zero tolerance for drink driving and 100 per cent installation of seat belt reminders. These measures would do much to increase the safety also of those driving for work. Sober drivers, that are belted up and keeping to the legal speed limits are an important part of the complete road safety picture in the EU. The EU so sorely needs to achieve this to reduce road deaths and a more ambitious target set for 2020.
For more information
Autostrade per l’Italia S.p.A. – www.autostrade.it
Babock – http://www.babcock.co.uk/pages/contact-us/
British Telecom – www.bt.com
Cemex – www.cemex.com
Electricity Supply Board, Ireland – www.esb.ie
FedEx Express – www.fedex.com
M&G Vehicle Hire – www.mandgvehiclehire.co.uk
Nestlé – www.nestle.com
Reynolds Logistics Ltd – www.reynoldslogistics.com
Sanofi-Aventis – http://www.sanofi-aventis.com/
Spedition Bode GmbH & Co. KG – www.spedition-bode.de
Suckling Transport Ltd – www.sucklingtransport.co.uk
TNT Express – http://group.tnt.com/
WABCO & ROYAL MAIL – www.wabco-auto.com and www.royalmail.com