More than 120 road safety practitioners from across Europe attended the ‘Towards Zero – how to make safer roads and road users safer’ conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia between 22-24 June.

Hosted by EuroRAP and DRC, the Slovenian Road Research Association, the event embraced EuroRAP’s annual meeting and general assembly and the South East Europe Road Safety Conference and was hosted by AMZS, the Slovenian motoring club. Shared sessions gave delegates opportunities to learn about the latest thinking in road safety practice.

The highlight of the conference was the attendance of EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc on 23 June. Commissioner Bulc told delegates that road safety practitioners had to pluck the “low hanging fruit” of simple infrastructure and safety improvements if the continent was to meet its aim of halving road fatalities and serious injuries by 2020.

With road fatalities higher in 2014 (26,313) than 2013, a “Quantum leap forward” in road safety was needed, she said. She pledged to do everything she could to support road safety professionals in ensuring innovative life saving strategies were put at the top of the agenda in the European Union.

The commissioner led a half-day interactive session which threw up a wide range of ideas. These included:

  • the need for more best practice sharing – a high level event during the Maltese EU presidency next year was widely supported
  • the importance of extending pan-European road safety assessment to the national networks
  • the need for better information exchange on crash outcomes, especially from hospitals
  • the inclusion of road safety projects as distinct items on Horizon 2020’s future work programmes
  • the creation of a road safety agency along the lines of those for other transport modes
  • achieving 3-star or better results for high volume roads across the region

(The conclusions and recommendations of the round table interactive sessions can be viewed here)

In a recorded message to the conference, iRAP CEO Rob McInerney told delegates that there was a political will to halve road deaths in Europe and around the world by 2020 provided by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 3.6. He urged delegates to advocate 3-star or better on all roads and to maximise risk reduction on the most dangerous stretches of roads to deliver significant falls in deaths and serious injuries.

The EuroRAP General Assembly meeting on the closing day of the conference marked a significant moment for EuroRAP with the formal retirement of its founding chairman, John Dawson. His successor is Ferry Smith, the Director of Public Affairs for ANWB, the Royal Dutch Touring Club.

In recognition of John’s key role in leading EuroRAP since 2002, Ferry announced that a star had been named in his honour. John was presented with a special sign for his garden commemorating the star and his long service to EuroRAP.

John said: ‘”I was very moved by the warmth and affection expressed by everyone. It has been a great honour to be chairman and I look forward to working with Ferry, and my fellow board members, as EuroRAP continues to help save lives and serious trauma on the continent’s roads.”

Speaking after the assembly, Ferry praised Ferry praised John as “An inspirational figure in European road safety management.” He said: ‘John Dawson’s vision and leadership has transformed our view of road safety. Thousands of deaths and serious injuries have been prevented across Europe as a result of his work – it is an inspirational legacy.’

Looking forward to his new role as chairman, Ferry said: ‘It’s a great privilege to be appointed as chairman of EuroRAP. The next few years are an exciting and challenging time for our organisation as we work towards halving deaths and serious injuries on Europe’s roads by 2020.

‘Between 1999 and 2014 deaths on Europe’s roads fell from 54,000 to 26,000 but over the last couple of years this fall has plateaued. The number of seriously injured is equally worrying. The Commission estimated that number at 135,000 in 2014. We must work hard to drive down deaths and seriously injured as each one of them is an unacceptable tragedy

‘EuroRAP members have a vital role to play with governments, road authorities and European institutions to help deliver a safer infrastructure that saves the lives of all vehicle occupants, pedestrians, cyclists and motor cyclists.’

 

View a photo gallery of the assembly including delegates’ end of conference group photograph here

 

View presentations here

What does a 3-star world look like?: Ferry Smith, EuroRAP chairman

Towards zero: safer roads and road users: John Dawson, EuroRAP board member

The journey from Ljubljana, EuroRAP plans 2016-20: Stephen Stacey and Steve Lawson, EuroRAP

iRAP in Catalonia: from road assessment to road management: Lluis Puerto, Royal Automobile Club of Catalonia

Performance tracking in Slovenia: Jure Kostanjšek, Robert Štaba, AMZS

Upgrading motorways in Slovakia, a before and after study: Martin Juck,  Managing Director EuroRAP SK

Risk Mapping in Poland: Wojciech Kustra, Gdansk University of Technology, Poland

Europe’s road safety priorities – your role and ours: Szabolcs Schmidt, Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport, European Commission

Road safety in Europe, where we are and where we are going: Antonio Avenoso, Executive Director, European Transport Safety Council (ETSC)

Slovenian experiences with traffic calming measures in urban areas: Assoc.Prof. Marko Renčelj, University of Maribor,Slovenia

The EU strategy for the Danube region: Franc Žepič, Ministry of Infrastructure, Office for International Affairs, Republic of Slovenia

Road safety in SEETOLiljana Cela, Information Resources Manager, SEETO (South-east Europe Transport Observatory)