According to the UN Report on Improving Global Road Safety (2011), “nearly 1.3 million people in the world die each year of road crashes, 90 per cent of them in low- and middle-income countries. Another 20 to 50 million people suffer serious injuries. Road traffic injuries are also the leading cause of death for people from 10 to 24 years of age”. According to the European Road Safety Charter, the direct and indirect costs of road traffic injuries have reached 2% of the European GDP in 2008. The road safety represents, therefore, a serious issue for many governments.

In 1988, the Working Party on Road Traffic Safety, an intergovernmental body, was established. It promotes adherence to the UN legal instrument, the Convention on Road Traffic adopted in 1968.Concerned with continued increase in traffic accidents, the United Nations General Assembly have adopted 4 resolutions over the last 10 years calling for introducing more measures. The period 2011-2020 has been proclaimed the Decade of Action for Road Safety. The goal of this worldwide initiative is to reduce the level of road traffic deaths around the world. 

Road safety receives much attention at the European level as well. The European Commission has set up the European Road Safety Charter to gather stakeholders from all Member States in order to exchange best practices and improve road safety. More than 2000 companies have already signed this charter. The road safety issues are regulated by a number of EU directives covering a wide range of topics from using a seatbelt to emergency calls. The texts of all EU directives are available here.

The European road safety policy in 2011-2020 will focus on: 

  • adopting a strategy for injuries and first aid to reduce the number of road injuries;
  • cooperation between Member States based on the exchange of best practices across the EU;
  • improving the safety of vulnerable road users.