Summary Road Safety Report 2016: A Clear Goal: Let’s Get Back onto the Road to Success
Although the risk of suffering fatal or serious injuries in passenger transportation has decreased significantly over the past few decades in nearly every EU member state, we must not rest on our laurels when it comes to the efforts to improve road safety even further. As this report has demonstrated in the preceding chapters, action still needs to be taken in a number of areas. Measures relating to vehicle technology and road infrastructure should enjoy just as high a priority as raising risk-awareness among all road users. Legislation, traffic monitoring, emergency services and road safety education can also play a key role in reducing the number of traffic fatalities and serious injuries.
The latest accident statistics from Germany, France and Italy, among other countries, are alarming. Although the figures are still provisional, they reveal a clear trend – and, in the countries named, the trend is unfortunately negative. According to preliminary figures released by the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, the number of traffic fatalities in Germany in 2015 increased by 2.9% to 3,475; the “Observatoire National Interministériel de la Sécurité Routière” (ONISR) is forecasting 3,464 traffic fatalities in France (+ 2.4%); and in Italy, initial estimates of the Istituto Nazionale di Statistica (Istat) show a 1.3% increase in the number of traffic fatalities to around 3,425.
In light of this, the EU Commission’s strategic target of halving the number of traffic fatalities between 2010 and 2020 seems more challenging than ever – in fact, in Germany and France, the figure for 2014 was higher than for the previous year. And that’s not all: In 2014, there were 10,142 traffic fatalities in Germany, France and Italy, which equates to almost 40% of all traffic fatalities in the EU. So if the figures can increase even in those countries where people have comparatively modern cars, this highlights just how urgent the need is to reverse the trend and mirror the successes of previous years, especially given that the use of passenger transportation – which dominates the accident statistics and is the focus of this report – is set to increase even more across the EU over the next few years.
Electronic systems as integral safety elements
One major area where measures can be taken to efficiently counteract negative trends in road safety is, and remains, the car. Take Germany, for example: In 2014, almost two thirds of all people involved in accidents resulting in casualties were car drivers; for serious accidents resulting in material damage, this figure was even as high as 86%. The main cause of accidents resulting in personal injury and/or material damage is human error. As statistics show time and time again, people are responsible for around 90% of accidents. Not without reason, therefore, has the automotive industry for many years been increasingly focusing on driver assistance systems that are capable of recognizing critical driving and traffic situations early on, warning of dangers and, if necessary, actively intervening. Mobility 4.0 key technologies play an important complementary role here, too. Thanks to intelligent infrastructure and the networking of vehicles to facilitate communication either between cars (car-to-car) or from cars to centralized and decentralized systems (car-to-infrastructure), these technologies can also help to further reduce the number of accident-critical situations and, in turn, the number of serious accidents resulting in death and serious injury.
It is essential that all such electronic systems function properly throughout the vehicle’s service life. Only in this way can they have their desired impact. Regular vehicle inspections will therefore become even more important than they already are, not least because of the growing complexity of the systems and the risk of electronic tampering.
To conclude, however, we must not lose sight of one clear fact, as stated in the previous years’ DEKRA road safety reports: To prevent hazardous road traffic situations from arising in the first place, responsible behavior, proper assessment of one’s own capabilities and a high level of acceptance of rules among all road users are, and remain, absolutely essential. Even the very best vehicle technology and road infrastructure cannot change that.
- Greater market penetration of electronic driver assistance systems, including through competitive pricing, education and, if necessary, the further development of assistance systems for protecting yourself and other road users.
- Ongoing development of vehicle inspection to take account of new electronic systems and safety-relevant communication technology.
- Greater access for inspection organizations to manufacturer’s data relevant for checking electronic systems.
- Rapid formulation of internationally standardized legal framework conditions for highly and fully automated driving functions – in particular with regard to liability law, registration law, lifelong vehicle safety and data protection.
- Increased use of event data recorders for determining the course and cause of accidents – particularly in combination with automated drive functions.