Despite the enormous increase in traffic-based services on the roads, Germany and other European countries have succeeded in markedly improving road safety. Our cars have become safer, dangerous stretches of road have been made less hazardous and new laws have also contributed to increased road safety. In Germany, the most important of these has been the law making it compulsory to wear a seat belt. By no means the least important contributory factor has been the legal requirement for periodic inspection of the vehicles on our roads, a measure which has been introduced throughout Europe. It has resulted in our vehicle stock being in better technical condition and thereby increasing road safety still further.
Over the past two years, however, this positive downward trend seems to have stalled somewhat. Given the EU’s strategic target of halving the number of traffic fatalities between 2010 and 2020, this is an alarming trend. This trend has to be reversed to build on the achievements of previous years. This challenge applies as much to vehicle technology as it does to infrastructure, road construction, legislation, traffic monitoring, emergency services, road safety education and other preventive measures. However, the focus must always be on people. After all, it is people who, as road users, will always be vulnerable to hazards.