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New report shows half of road deaths in the EU occur on rural roads

New report shows half of road deaths in the EU occur on rural roads

A recent report published by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) shows that over 50% of fatal road accidents occur on rural roads. The report (“Reducing Road Deaths on Rural Roads , PIN Flash Report 46 of March 2024) further states that:

“Rural roads can be dangerous, compared to other road types.  They often lack central and side barriers and allow for large speed and weight differences between the vehicles that use them, from lorries to vulnerable cyclists as well as pedestrians.   Single-vehicle crashes, where a fatigued driver misjudges a turn and runs off the road, are common.  Head-on collisions frequently occur, and are often lethal.”

The report concludes with a number of recommendations:

Better data: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can give a more complete picture of the level of road safety and can help to detect the emergence of problems

Better infrastructure: Some of the most common unsafe features of rural road infrastructure include a lack of separation between the different directions of traffic and between motorised traffic and pedestrians or cyclists, obstacles in the roadside area, as well as inappropriate curve design.

Safer speed limits and improving speed enforcement: Safe speed limits on rural roads without a median barrier should not be higher than 70 km/h. Mobile roadside police checks together with mobile and fixed cameras, as well as time-over-distance cameras, has proved to be an effective tool in addressing speeding, also on rural roads.

Improving safety and accessibility for vulnerable road users (VRUs): Obstacles to bicycle use in rural areas include a lack of safe cycling routes, longer distances and uphill stretches. It is important to design infrastructure that more effectively separates cyclists from faster-moving traffic and also to reduce the relative speed between the different road users.

Vehicle safety technologies such as automated emergency braking (AEB) and intelligent speed assistance (ISA) are mandatory on all new vehicles sold in the EU, and will help improve road safety

Jenny Carson, co-author of the new report commented:

“Rural roads can and are being made safer with interventions that do not need to be costly.  Road safety audits, analysis and subsequent treatment of high-risk sites, setting and enforcing appropriate speed limits, creating separated paths for cyclists and walkers, removing obstacles at the roadside; these are a few examples of what can and should be done.  With increasing focus on urban road safety, it is critically important that policymakers don’t forget rural roads where half of road deaths occur.”

Download the report from: