Did you know ...? The EU aims to reach zero road deaths by 2050 

Cars Lights on a Highway

Worldwide, injuries claim the lives of 4.4 million people each year. One third of these deaths are caused by road accidents [1]. In fact, road crashes are the leading cause of death for adolescents. Many of the adolescents involved in accidents were VRUs [2]. Therefore, increasing road safety and the associated reduction of fatalities due to traffic accidents has been a very important goal of the EU for years.  

In the EU policy framework for road safety in the period 2021 to 2030, the European Commission published its next steps towards the "Vision Zero Road Traffic Fatalities". At the beginning of 2017, for the first time the target was defined to halve the number of serious injuries resulting from road accidents in the EU by 2030 compared to the figures from 2020 [3]. The EU's long-term goal is to reduce the number of traffic fatalities to zero by 2050. Preliminary figures for 2022 from February 2023 show that we are still far enough away from the target. Because the year 2022 records about 20,600 deaths due to traffic accidents. Compared to the previous year, this is an increase of 3%. However, it is expected that this is due to reduced traffic participation in the wake of the Covid 19 pandemic. Compared to pre-pandemic numbers in 2019, there are 2,000 fewer deaths, which is a 10% reduction [4]. 

But what exactly is needed to further reduce road deaths? An important issue here is the mentality towards the guiding principle of Vision Zero. This applies to policy makers as well as to the broader society. An important prerequisite for this is that traffic fatalities are no longer seen as acceptable losses but are taken seriously in a similar way to aviation. Furthermore, a safe system is to be developed. This safe system deals with the safety of the entire traffic process. Its main elements are safe vehicles, safe infrastructure systems and a safe road use. Furthermore, new trends need to be reevaluated and assessed on new risks. An example for this is the raising number of distracted drivers due to the use of mobile phones while driving. On the other hand, there can be new chances and possibilities when introducing new technologies [3].  

That is why the interdisciplinary EU project AWARE2ALL evaluates and examines the future scenario of mixed traffic where human driven vehicles interact with highly automated vehicles. Overall, this project supports the long-term goal of the European Commission by developing safe automated vehicles for all road users. AWARE2ALL is mainly concerned with the changes in road safety resulting from the introduction of autonomous vehicles. The project focuses on underrepresented population groups (women, elderly, people with physical disabilities, etc.) to ensure that the results of the project provide safety for all road users. 

Aerial Photography of Cars on Road Intersection



[3] European Commission, EU ROAD SAFETY POLICY FRAMEWORK 2021 – 2030, Next steps towards ‘Vision Zero’, Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2020, ISBN 978-92-76-13219-6 doi:10.2832/391271