Ireland was the winner of this year’s European Transport Safety Council Road Safety Performance Index (PIN) award, while Cyprus and Greece ranked 20th and 25th among 32 countries ranked.
The annual award is presented to a European country that has demonstrated continued progress on road safety combined with a strategic approach to tackling the problem across government.
Ireland was the second safest European Union Member State in 2018 in terms of road mortality (road deaths per million inhabitants) and has moved up five places in the ranking of EU countries since 2010 when it held 7th place. In terms of numbers killed, Ireland has cut annual deaths by more than 30 per cent since 2010. By comparison, deaths increased in other relatively safe countries over the same period including Sweden and the Netherlands.
In Cyprus, deaths decreased from close to 75 in 2010 to 56 in 2018 and in Greece from 110 to 64. The EU average moved downwards from 63 to 49 in the same period.
According to an ETSC report, progress in Ireland stands in contrast to relative stagnation in the EU as a whole.
The numbers killed on EU roads fell by just 1 per cent last year, and by just 4 per cent over the last five years.
The EU target to cut road deaths in half over the decade to 2020 now looks out of reach. Meeting that target would require an unprecedented 21 per cent reduction per year in 2019 and 2020.
The ETSC said that in many member states, road safety has been deprioritised in recent years, with cuts to traffic police enforcement, and a failure to invest in safer infrastructure.
“Road deaths and injuries in the EU are still unacceptably high by any measure, with around 500 deaths every single week, the equivalent to three Boeing 737 planes crashing and killing everyone on board”, the ETSC said.
Meanwhile, “the EU’s biggest and boldest recent road safety initiatives – an update to minimum vehicle safety standards and a significant increase in the scope of infrastructure safety management rules – were only finalised in the last 12 months, after several years of delay”. The ETSC is calling on “the new European Parliament and Commissioners to make road safety a priority from day one”.