DEKRA presents Road Safety Report 2016

Acute risk of missing EU targets for 2020

Apr 13, 2016
  • Increasing levels of passenger transportation entail high risk of accidents
  • Enhanced safety through automated in-vehicle systems
  • More problems caused by inattention – including among pedestrians

The most recent accident figures published by the European Commission are alarming: For the first time since 2001, the number of traffic fatalities in the EU rose again last year. In the 28 EU member states, around 26,000 people were killed on the roads in 2015 – an increase of 1.2% on last year. In light of this, the EU's strategic target of halving the number of traffic fatalities between 2010 and 2020 is in acute danger. "All the more, therefore, all stakeholders are called upon to make every effort to reverse this trend and mirror the successes of previous years," said Clemens Klinke – member of the DEKRA SE Management Board and head of the DEKRA Automotive business unit – at the release of the DEKRA Road Safety Report 2016 in Berlin. This year's report focuses on passenger transportation – in particular cars, which still account for by far the biggest proportion of individual mobility. The expert organization highlights the areas harboring the greatest potential for a sustained reduction in the number of road accident victims in the EU and describes the challenges this involves for people, technology and infrastructure.

The risk of suffering fatal or serious injuries in passenger transportation has decreased significantly over many years in the EU. But this positive downward trend seems to have stalled somewhat. According to preliminary figures released by the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, the number of traffic fatalities in Germany in 2015 increased by 2.9% to 3,475; "Observatoire National Interministériel de la Sécurité Routière" (ONISR) is forecasting 3,464 traffic fatalities in France (+ 2.4%); and in Italy, the Istituto Nazionale di Statistica (Istat) is expecting a 1.3% increase in the number of traffic fatalities to around 3,425. Almost 40% of all traffic fatalities in the EU occur in Germany, France and Italy.

"If the number of traffic fatalities increases in these countries precisely where people have comparatively modern cars, then this is certainly alarming," said DEKRA Management Board member Klinke.

Tackling Challenges with Even More Focus

As far as passenger transportation is concerned, for decades car drivers have constituted the road user group most frequently involved in accidents with casualties. In Germany in 2014, for example, the figure was 63.5%. For serious accidents with material damage, this figure was as high as 86%. This must therefore be a key focus in order to make roads even safer in the long term.

The main cause of accidents resulting in personal injury and/or material damage is human error. As statistics show time and time again, people are responsible for around 90% of accidents. Accordingly, the automotive industry has been placing ever more importance on driver assistance systems such as electronic stability control, emergency braking systems, distance control, lane keeping assist and fatigue warning systems. All these systems can detect critical driving and traffic situations at an early stage, alert drivers to dangers and even actively intervene if necessary.

Mobility 4.0 key technologies play an important complementary role here, too. Thanks to intelligent infrastructure and the networking of vehicles to facilitate communication either between cars (car-to-car) or from cars to centralized and decentralized systems (car-to-infrastructure), these technologies can also help to further reduce the number of accident-critical situations and, in turn, the number of serious accidents resulting in death and serious injury.

Changing the legal framework conditions
Already today, some vehicles are semi-automated and networked. In the future, the number of vehicles featuring automated driving and networking functions will increase significantly. There is no doubt that these systems will open up major potential for reducing the number of accidents and, in particular, the number of killed or injured road users. "But first the legal framework conditions have to be changed," stressed Clemens Klinke.

In addition to the "Vienna Convention on Road Traffic", these measures affect above all national and international provisions regarding the rights and obligations of road users as well as regulations regarding the registration of motor vehicles.

Paying attention is the best safety strategy

While a whole range of measures – including in particular electronic assistance systems – have made roads safer over the past years, the experts at DEKRA believe that the positive potential of these measures is partly compromised by increasing inattention on the roads. Drivers, and pedestrians, become distracted from what is happening on the road, for example because they are using a smartphone. The dangers of this cannot be underestimated. Observations conducted in six European capital cities by DEKRA accident researchers revealed that almost 17% of pedestrians use their smartphones while crossing the road. "We believe that work aimed at improving road safety over the next few years must focus in particular on road user distraction. Education and awareness-building measures are top priorities here," says Klinke.

He firmly believes that responsible behavior, a proper assessment of one's own capabilities and a high level of acceptance of rules among all road users are absolutely essential. "Even the very best vehicle technology and road infrastructure cannot change that," the DEKRA Management Board member said in Berlin, expressing his concern.

DEKRA's commitment to greater road safety

Like the preceding reports since 2008, the latest DEKRA Road Safety Report is more than just a collection of facts about the current state of affairs. It provides food for thought and specific recommendations for action for politicians, traffic experts, manufacturers, scientific institutions and associations. It is also meant to act as an essential companion for all road users. DEKRA has been committed to improving road safety for nearly 90 years. The expert organization was one of the first signatories of the European Road Safety Charter and is just as unwavering in its support of the EU's action program to once more halve the number of deaths caused by road accidents by 2020. In national and international bodies, DEKRA's experts are highly valued as partners in dialog.

New DEKRA online road safety portal

The DEKRA Road Safety Report 2016 is available online not only for download as a PDF and also for browsing, first in German and soon also in its English version. Coinciding with its publication, the expert organization has also launched its new online portal
(TODO: |
. In this portal, not only can you find more detailed information on the content of the printed report, e.g. in the form of moving images or interactive graphics, which you can access via QR codes, but it also covers a range of other important topics and DEKRA activities concerning road safety.

DEKRA's demands for greater road safety
  • Greater market penetration of electronic driver assistance systems
  • Easy-to-understand information campaigns about the existence, function and limits of driver assistance systems and clarification of the driver's responsibility at all times
  • Rapid formulation of internationally standardized legal framework conditions for highly automated and fully automated driving functions
  • Ongoing development of technical vehicle monitoring to take account of new electronic systems and safety-relevant communication technology
  • Greater access for inspection organizations to manufacturer's data which are relevant for checking electronic systems
  • Increased use of event data recorders for determining the course and cause of accidents – particularly in combination with automated drive functions
  • Promotion of intelligent infrastructure (car-to-infrastructure communication) and intelligent networking of modes of transport (Mobility 4.0)
  • Prioritization of road safety over cost when it comes to the planning and maintenance of infrastructure
  • Active and attentive participation in road traffic, combined with the greatest possible avoidance of distractions
  • Mutual courtesy and the ability to put oneself in the position of other road users
  • Increase in seat belt usage in cars to 100%, including with the help of suitable and effective checks
  • Systematic implementation of the European-wide compulsory wearing of seat belts in coaches
  • Increase in helmet usage among cyclists – particularly those using pedelecs, which have higher average speeds
  • Earliest possible traffic education as early as preschool and primary school age
  • Driver training with greater emphasis on promoting skills in anticipatory traffic observation and hazard avoidance
  • EU-wide standardization of procedures for assessing driving fitness, using the tried-and-tested German MPU system as a template
  • EU-wide traffic rules, as far as this is possible and sensible