European Commissioner Adina Valean appreciates DEKRA’s contribution
Older road users are potentially disadvantaged when it comes to road safety, says Adina Valean, European Commissioner for Transport. Speaking at the presentation of the 2021 DEKRA Road Safety Report entitled “Old-Age Mobility” in Brussels, the Commissioner pointed out: “Advances in technology and regulation are designed to keep road users safe and save lives. But we need to acknowledge that older people tend to drive older cars, which will not be equipped with the latest tools. And when driving a vehicle fitted with innovative assistance systems, some drivers including those from older generations may find it more difficult to use them. Sadly, older road users are also overrepresented among vulnerable road users’ fatalities.” One in two pedestrians or cyclists killed in a road traffic crash on EU roads is 65 or older. Overall, more than one in four of those killed in road traffic accidents is in that age group.
Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) have the potential to improve the safety of all road users, especially vulnerable road users and of course older drivers. DEKRA CEO Stefan Kölbl joined the European Parliament in calling on the Commission to include ADAS in the upcoming revision of the Roadworthiness Package. “The potential can only be put into effect if these systems work reliably over the course of a vehicle’s full life cycle. This, in turn, means that vehicle inspection organizations like DEKRA must be able to check these systems regularly. Tomorrow’s periodical technical inspection needs ways and methods to do that. And we need a regulatory framework.”
The 2021 DEKRA Road Safety Report is the 14th edition to be published. The importance of improving road safety with respect to older people becomes particularly clear if comparing their crash statistics to younger demographics. While numbers of crash fatalities among 18 to 64-year-olds have been on the decline between 2010 and 2018, according to data from the International Traffic Safety Data and Analysis Group (IRTAD), in the same period the number of over-65s who were fatally injured in crashes actually rose. “As we move up the age groups, we see an increasing risk of suffering more severe or fatal injuries compared against younger people given the same kinds of accidents. As such, there is a danger that the number of road accident fatalities occurring in the 65+ demographic will continue to rise,” explained Jann Fehlauer, Managing Director of DEKRA Automobil GmbH.
The report includes real-life crash examples that illustrate some of the challenges connected to older road users. “From older drivers having trouble reversing into a parking space to driving slowly on a motorway or taking longer to get across a pedestrian crossing than the lights allow, I am sure these examples make us all think about the people behind the statistics”, commented Commissioner Valean. She also expressed her appreciation to DEKRA for the latest report: “Your focus on older people’s road safety is an essential contribution to our understanding of the issues that road users face every day. It is also an impetus to the European Commission to keep pushing forward with our road safety agenda to put safety first and to keep our eyes fixed on Vision Zero.