EU road safety improves, Ireland struggles


Siim Kallas
EU Commissioner for Transport
(Image Credit: EU Commission)

The EU Commission yesterday issued a press release in which it highlighted continuing improvements in road safety across the EU as a whole.

In their press release (source here), the Commission said:

According to preliminary figures, the number of road fatalities has decreased by 8% compared to 2012, following the 9% decrease between 2011 and 2012. This means that the EU is now in a good position for reaching the strategic target of halving road deaths between 2010 and 2020.

What the press release failed to mention was that motorcycle casualties were down across the EU as a whole, although it must be said that this was not the case in Ireland where we saw a marked increase on the record lows of previous years.

An internal report referenced by the EU Commission (source here) had this to say about the EU road safety situation for motorcycle, scooter and moped riders:

Motorcycle fatalities have been an issue of great concern the last years, considering the large over-representation of motorcyclists among road fatalities. Most fatalities of motorcyclists and moped drivers occur on rural or urban roads.

To some degree, the trend has now turned and also the number of motorcyclist road deaths decreased more than average from 2010-2012, thanks to an increased focus on the safety of this road user group.

Countermeasures during the last years have included a legislative change in the EU driving licence directive to ensure a gradual access to the heaviest motorbikes for young people. Development and increased use of protective clothing and protective devices is another important action area, studied by an on-going EU-funded project. From 2016, the EU type approval requirements for motorcycles will include the more advanced braking systems such as ABS.

As we’ve previously reported, motorcycle fatalities in Ireland increased substantially in 2013 compared to previous years and there is now a concerted effort by the relevant authorities to address and reverse this trend.

Irish motorcycle fatalities 2003-2013

Irish motorcycle fatalities 2003-2013

A preliminary review by the RSA in January noted this trend had been identified early on (as we reported here), and the review went on to note that:

The increase to date in motorcyclist fatalities was driven by a greater number of fatalities in January, June, August, September and December compared to the same period in 2012. The increase over the summer months may be due to the exceptionally good weather experienced in 2013.

The EU has set a target of halving road deaths between 2010 and 2020. We can therefore continue to expect targeted measures aimed specifically at vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists. For our part MAG Ireland is working to ensure the riders point of view is heard and that that any such measures are proportionate, balanced and based on solid evidence of effectiveness.

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