Cyprus should be proud that its record low year for auto accidents in 2013 has contributed, all but slightly, to an impressive decrease in the number of people killed on Europe’s roads, Police Chief Demetris Demetriou has said.
Speaking to The Cyprus Daily, following the release of EU statistics that revealed Europe is in good position for reaching the strategic target of halving road deaths between 2010 and 2020, Demetriou said the positive statistics are the result of combined measures of the authorities of Member States to improve road safety.
“Constant efforts to improve road safety levels are having positive results and hopefully with more hard work we will be able to reach the EU target of halving fatalities by 2020.”
Compared to 2012, Cyprus marked a 13% decrease in deaths on the roads and a 19% drop in serious crashes; the lowest number of auto accidents across the island since the foundation of the Republic.
Despite the drop Cyprus still has the second highest rate of youth road deaths in the EU, an issue the authorities intend to address through education and public awareness initiatives as well as the targeting of high-risk behaviour in young drivers.
According to the commission’s preliminary figures, the number of road fatalities in the EU decreased by 8% in 2013 compared to 2012, following a 9% decrease between 2011 and 2012.
The 17% decrease since 2010 means that some 9000 lives have been saved.
Commenting on the statistics, EU Commissioner for mobility and transport Siim Kallas said transport safety is a trademark of Europe.
“This is why it is extremely important that the good results from 2012 were not a one-off. I’m proud to see that the EU is fully back on track to reach the road safety target for 2020.”
However, the commissioner warned that there are still 70 people who die on Europe’s roads every day.
“For this reason we cannot be complacent and must continue our joint efforts at all levels to further improve the safety on European roads.”
Country by country statistics show that the number of road deaths still varies greatly across the EU. On average, there were 52 road deaths per million inhabitants in the EU. The countries with the lowest number of road fatalities remain the UK, Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark, reporting around 30 deaths per million inhabitants. Notably Spain, Germany and Slovakia have improved their positions on the list, moving in among the traditional top performers while the member states that have made progress but whose road fatality figures are still much higher than the EU average (Poland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania and Greece) are encouraged to strengthen their efforts.
Another worrying feature of the statistics is the situation of vulnerable road users: The number of pedestrians killed is decreasing to a lesser extent than expected and the number of cyclists killed has recently even been increasing. This is partly due to the fact that more and more people cycle; the challenge for Member States is to encourage people to use their bicycles rather than their cars more often, but to make sure that the shift from car to bicycle is a safe one.
Only a few years ago, in 2011, progress in cutting road deaths fell to a disappointing 2%. However, a reduction of 9% in 2012 and of 8% in 2013 mean that Member States are back on track towards the strategic target.