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14 June 2007 PR 07/81

UK no longer leading the way in road safety

An international panel of road safety experts, which includes members of Loughborough University’s Vehicle Safety Research Centre (VSRC), says the UK is no longer leading the way in road safety in Europe.

A comparison of UK road safety performance with that of other European countries reveals that progress in the UK on reducing road deaths is slower than in other top performing countries. Data from 2006 put the UK in sixth place in Europe for road deaths per million population (source: CARE and national statistics). The top five European countries in 2006 with the fewest road deaths per million population were: Malta, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and Norway.

Today (Thursday 14 June) 30 distinguished experts and state representatives gathered in London for a high-level debate on UK road safety in the European context. The event has been organised by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) and the VSRC as part of the ETSC’s Road Safety Performance Index (PIN) programme.

The PIN programme is a new policy instrument to help EU Member States in improving road safety. By comparing Member States’ performance, it serves to identify and promote best practice in Europe and ultimately create a road transport system that offers the maximum safety.

The experts’ discussion was based on the findings of the first road safety PIN Report as well as the Department for Transport’s (DfT) three-year review. The UK does not hold a top position in any of the road safety rankings presented by the ETSC. In summary:

Professor Pete Thomas from Loughborough’s VSRC is a member of the PIN Steering Group. Speaking about its latest findings he said: “The UK has been a leader in road and vehicle safety for many years helping to set the standard for Europe. Progress in reducing road deaths has slowed and the UK has to develop more innovative solutions and apply them.”

Professor Richard Allsop, ETSC board member and Chairman of the PIN programme, added: “Much road safety policy and practice in the UK is good, but these comparisons with our fellow-Europeans come as a wake-up call to anyone tempted to acquiesce in present levels of death and injury on our roads – perhaps especially those concerned with priorities for law-enforcement.”

Robert Gifford, Executive Director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, said: “This objective analysis of the performance of the UK reminds us of how much more progress we need to make. We used to claim that we had the safest roads in Europe. That claim is no longer matched in reality. The UK clearly needs to do much more to reclaim its position at the top of the EU road safety league.”


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Notes for editors:

  1. For a table of road deaths in Europe per million population in 2006 contact Judy Smyth in Loughborough University’s Public Relations Office.
  2. The Vehicle Safety Research Centre (VSRC) was established in 1983 to provide transport and road safety policy and design solutions to governments and the industry using in-depth real world research tools. The Centre’s ongoing research and consultancy activities for major clients have led to its reputation as a world leader in its field, often collaborating with other national and international organisations. See http://www.lboro.ac.uk/research/esri/vehicle-road-safety/index.htm.
  3. The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) is a Brussels-based independent non-profit making organisation dedicated to the reduction of the number and severity of transport crashes in Europe. The ETSC seeks to identify and promote research-based measures with a high safety potential. It brings together 37 national and international organisations concerned with transport safety from across Europe. See http://www.etsc.be.
  4. The Road Safety Performance Index (PIN) Programme was launched in June 2006 to compare road safety performances of 27 European countries. See http://www.etsc.be/PIN.php.
  5. The event in London to discuss UK road safety was kindly supported by Toyota Motor Europe.
  6. Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry and unrivalled sporting achievement.

    It is a member of the esteemed 1994 Group – a set of internationally recognised, research-intensive universities – and has a reputation for the relevance of its work. Its degree programmes are highly regarded by professional institutions and businesses, and its graduates are consistently targeted by the UK’s top recruiters

    Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports

    In the 2006 National Student Survey, the University gained a top five place, with nine out of Loughborough’s 23 departments topping their subject tables. Loughborough was also placed 6th in the 2007 Times Good University Guide and was named winner of the 2006 THES award for the UK’s Best Student Experience. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded five Queen's Anniversary Prizes – an achievement bettered by no other university.


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