Traffic safety policy
Road transport has never been so safe as it is today
The risk of being involved in a fatal road accident fell yet again in 2014. As a result, road transport is safer than it has ever been. Statistically speaking, there were 4.6 fatalities per 1 billion vehicle kilometers in 2014. In the mid-1990s, this figure was three times as high. Normally, the number of fatalities due to accidents also falls in absolute terms year on year, in spite of increasing mileages driven. However, exceptionally, this was not the case in 2014: The number increased slightly by 1 percent to 3,360. According to the Federal Highway Research Institute, this was due to the very mild winter compared to 2013. This meant that bicyclists and motorcyclists were driving very soon and very frequently right from the first months of the year.
The number of fatalities on autobahns declined significantly in 2014, on the other hand. It fell by about 9 percent year on year to 430. The autobahns are the safest roads bar none. There were 1.9 fatalities per 1 billion vehicle kilometers on them, whereas the figure for the remainder of the road network was 5.8. German autobahns are some of the safest in the world in international comparison as well. Yet again, this demonstrates that a general speed limit, which is a topic that often comes up for discussion, would not produce any safety benefit.
Agreement on eCall
At the end of 2014, the European Parliament, Council and Commission agreed on the design of the Europe-wide automatic emergency call system, eCall. As soon as a vehicle’s sensors detect a serious accident, the system automatically sends an emergency call to a rescue control center. The emergency services can use satellite location to pinpoint the accident immediately via satellite – thereby shortening the time taken for help to arrive. According to the agreement, all new passenger cars and vans will have to be fitted with this system from April 2018 onwards. The carmakers can continue to offer their customers a proprietary emergency call service that does not use the general emergency number 112, which can provide the control center with additional information about a vehicle, for example. The infrastructure for the system outside the vehicle, such as equipment for rescue control centers and communication networks, will have to be installed by the EU countries by October 2017.