“Vision Zero” is no utopia. The aim of zero traffic accident-related fatalities has already been reached in hundreds of cities across Europe. A new online tool presented by the expert organisation DEKRA at the International Transport Forum (ITF) in Leipzig shows which cities in Europe have been working successfully at improving road safety. DEKRA’s 2014 Road Safety Report “Urban Mobility” suggests several fields of action.
An assessment of the accident statistics for 17 European countries from 2009 to 2012 by DEKRA Accident Research shows that a total of 462 towns and cities with over 50,000 inhabitants achieved a total of zero at least once in this period. These cities make up more than 40% of all the cities of that size in the countries examined. Sixteen cities recorded no traffic fatalities throughout the entire period from 2009 to 2012, one of the in Norway, six in Germany and nine in the United Kingdom.
Of the cities with over 100,000 inhabitants, a total of 88 (or 23,7% of all those cities) have succeeded in making “Vision Zero” happen in at least one year. Among them are even cities with a number of inhabitants over 200,000 (Espoo / Finland: 259,000; Aachen / Germany: 260,000; Nottingham / England: 289,000).
“These figures show that ‘Vision Zero’ is not an illusion”, says Clemens Klinke, a member of the DEKRA SE Management Board and head of the Automotive Business Unit. “Of course, it has not yet been completely turned into reality. However, the assessment shows that the goal can be achieved within an urban context and has already been achieved in many cities across Europe. All the more we have to continue the effort to improve road safety and move closer to reaching the aim of ‘Vision Zero’ – also with respect to severe injuries.”
DEKRA’s 2014 Road Safety Report focuses on Urban Mobility and its specific accident risks. Most accidents occur in urban areas. According to the German Federal Statistics Office, urban accidents accounted for just under three quarters of all accidents in Germany in 2012 at 72,9% and resulted in 1,062 deaths. At the same time, urban accidents are responsible for most severe and minor injuries. There is a similar picture in many other EU states.
“In urban traffic, the strongest, that is trucks, buses and cars, come up against the weakest, namely pedestrians and cyclists. Tram and light rail systems are also part of the mix. All this leads to a wide range of traffic situations and very specific risks”, says Clemens Klinke. “In view of the predictions that towns and cities will continue to grow, resulting in increased urban traffic, all available optimisation opportunities in terms of traffic safety in urban areas have to be used.”
Areas for action
To make further strides towards “Vision Zero” over the next few years, especially in towns and cities, the DEKRA experts have identified several areas for action. Right at the top of the list is the conduct of road users. “More cooperative coexistence in road traffic is absolutely essential”, says the DEKRA Management Board member. “Too often, insufficient risk awareness, too little consideration and sometimes also aggression are the causes of accidents that result in injury and damage”. Frequently, the necessary knowledge and acceptance of traffic rules and the ability to empathise with other road users are also lacking – for instance, car drivers adopting the perspective of a cyclist or vice versa.
Electronic driver assistance systems provide great potential for preventing accidents. To a certain extent, they can also help to avert hazardous situations that result from carelessness or human error. For instance, this applies to systems for pedestrian protection, which detect pedestrians crossing the road, warn the driver and slow down the vehicle if necessary. In the summer of 2013, DEKRA opened a test facility for systems of this kind in Klettwitz, Brandenburg.
Further examples of driver assistance systems with considerable potential in urban areas include blind spot assist, lane change assist and cross traffic alert. According to DEKRA, the aim must be to significantly increase the proportion of vehicles fitted with systems such as these.
In urban areas, the infrastructure is also a key factor in traffic safety. In all complex traffic situations – whether at crossroads, on multilane roads or at public transport stops – the layout must be as clear as possible for all road users. Another key priority should be optimisation of inner-city cycle paths and upgrading of street lighting in line with the state of the art.
DEKRA’s commitment to greater road safety
Like the preceding reports since 2008, the latest DEKRA Road Safety Report is also much more than a collection of facts about the current state of affairs. The report is intended to provide food for thought for politicians, traffic experts, manufacturers, scientific institutions and associations. It is also meant to act as an essential companion for all road users.
In line with its articles of association, DEKRA has been committed to improving traffic safety for nearly 90 years. The expert organisation was one of the first signatories of the EU Road Safety Charter and is just as unwavering in its support of the EU’s action programme to once more halve the number of traffic deaths by 2020. In national and international bodies, DEKRA’s experts are highly valued as partners in dialogue.
The DEKRA 2014 Road Safety Report is available online for download and for browsing at www.dekra.de/en/verkehrssicherheitsreport-2014.
The online tool showing cities without road fatalities in 17 European countries can be found at www.dekra-vision-zero.com. Data of cities without road fatalities will be constantly updated.
Largest city in each country with no deaths by road accidents in at least one year between 2009 and 2012