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Road safety: Policy orientations on road safety 2011-20

Road safety: Policy orientations on road safety 2011-20


European Commission communication (COM(2010) 389 final) - towards a European road safety area 2011-2020


Although progress was made on road safety in the European Union (EU) during the 3rd European road safety action programme (RSAP) which ran between 2003 and 2010), the European Commission highlights that efforts to improve road safety need to be further strengthened.


The European road safety policy orientations (2011-2020) aim to provide a general framework and challenging objectives to guide national and local strategies, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity. Within the general framework, the Commission highlights the need to:

  • create a cooperation framework based on the exchange of best practices across the EU;
  • adopt a strategy for injuries and first aid to address the need to reduce the number of road injuries;
  • improve the safety of vulnerable road users.

Principles and target

The Commission sets out 3 main principles:

  • striving for the highest road safety standards throughout Europe - by encouraging EU citizens to take primary responsibility for their own safety and the safety of others on EU roads, and by focusing on improving the safety of more vulnerable road users;
  • an integrated approach to road safety - through cooperation with other EU policy areas, such as energy, environment, education, innovation and technology, and justice.
  • subsidiarity, proportionality and shared responsibility - through the concept of shared responsibility, commitment and practical actions at all levels from EU countries and their authorities to regional and local bodies.

Following the RSAP 2003-10, the Commission proposes to maintain the target of halving the overall number of road deaths in the EU between 2010 and 2020. This demonstrates the EU’s clear commitment to road safety and having a common objective is intended to provide EU citizens with a more uniform level of road safety within the EU. The Commission encourages individual EU countries to contribute to the achievement of this common target through their own national road safety strategies.

During the public consultation for these policy orientations, which took place between July and December 2009, a target for reducing road traffic severe injuries was proposed. Once a common definition exists for ‘severe injuries’, the Commission is to add a common ‘injuries reduction target’ to these European road safety policy orientations up to 2020.

Strategic objectives

The Commission has identified 7 objectives, for which actions will be proposed at both EU and national level:

  • improve education and training of road users - the quality of the licensing and training system needs to be improved, with emphasis on young driversThe Commission will work with EU countries to develop a common educational and training road safety strategy including pre-test learning, the driving licence test, and post-licence training;
  • increase enforcement of road rules - the Commission, the European Parliament and the Council will work together to establish a cross-border exchange of information in the area of road safety. The Commission will also work towards a common road safety enforcement strategy which will involve enforcement campaigns, national enforcement objectives, and vehicle technology to assist enforcement, including the possibility of speed limiters in light commercial vehicles and alcohol interlock devices;
  • safer road infrastructure - the Commission will ensure that EU funds will only be granted to infrastructure that complies with EU safety requirements. The Commission will also promote the application of the relevant principles of safe management to the secondary road network of EU countries, in particular through the exchange of best practices.
  • safer vehicles - as well as continue to encourage the progress of vehicle safety, the Commission will also evaluate and propose actions in the area of harmonisation and progressive strengthening of EU legislation on roadworthiness tests and on technical roadside inspections;
  • promote the use of modern technology to increase road safety - the Commission will continue to promote the use of Intelligent Transport Systems to improve road traffic safety. The effectiveness and speed of rescue will be enhanced by the adoption of the European emergency call service fitted to vehicles, ‘eCall’;
  • improve emergency and post-injuries services - the Commission will propose the establishment of a global strategy of action on road injuries and first aid. The Commission will in particular examine the means to improve the efficiency of first aid intervention and post-care handling in order to reduce the impact of road accidents.
  • protect vulnerable road users - the Commission will work to improve the safety of motorcyclists, addressing behaviour, as well as vehicle and infrastructure safety. It will also encourage the establishment of adequate infrastructures to increase the safety of cycling and other vulnerable road users.

Implementation of the European road safety policy orientations 2011-20

Open cooperation between EU countries and the Commission facilitates the implementation of the EU road safety policy. Parallel to this, EU countries also have national road safety plans that include specific national objectives which are individual to their particular situation.

The Commission will pursue the improvement of the existing tools for data collection and analysis, such as CARE, the EU database on road accidents established in accordance with Council Decision 93/704/EC, as well as the European Road Safety Observatory (ERSO), which makes publicly available through the Internet road safety data and knowledge at European level.


For more information, see Road safety on the European Commission’s website


Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Towards a European road safety area: policy orientations on road safety 2011-2020 (COM(2010) 389 final of 20 July 2010)

last update 09.05.2016