Road Safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist is adding its voice to the European warning that the decline in the level of police enforcement of traffic offences is a key reason why casualty numbers are not falling.
More than 26,000 people died on EU roads in 2015, the first increase since 2001 according to the European Transport Safety Council’s annual road safety performance index report. Exceeding speed limits, drink or distracted driving and a failure to wear a seatbelt are still the leading causes of death and serious injury across Europe, according to the researchers.
In a separate report on enforcement, ETSC found that, in more than half the countries where data is available, the number of penalty tickets issued over the last five years for use of a mobile phone while driving has reduced, suggesting lower levels of enforcement across Europe.
GEM chief executive David Williams comments: “Police enforcement is a vital component of an overall road safety strategy. Reductions to road policing numbers in recent years send a message to drivers that they are less likely to be caught speeding, drink-driving, not wearing seatbelts, using mobile phones or generally not conforming with the rules that have been put there for their safety.
“We echo ETSC’s clear warning that reductions in road death and serious injury will not be forthcoming unless there is a new commitment to policing the roads. Levels of compliance improve when police are there as an effective deterrent to risk-taking behaviour. When compliance improves, there will be fewer collisions.”
David Williams believes it must also be a police priority to identify and sanction those drivers who pose unacceptably high risks. “Whether they are disqualified, uninsured, or simply demonstrate a flagrant disregard for the rules, there should be no place for them on our roads.
“The mechanism are in place to deal with these high-end offenders, but it is continually frustrating that dwindling numbers of roads policing officers often make this very difficult,” he adds.