EU demands zero tolerance for alcohol and drugs in traffic

The European Parliament demands a zero-tolerance for alcohol and drugs on the road throughout the European Union. There should also be a 30 km/hour speed limit in every residential area.

Since the current European recommendations are 20 years old, the Parliament considers the time to open the debate on new road safety measures. Moreover, things are not going in the right direction: the EU wanted to halve the number of road victims between 2010 and 2020 (the number of road deaths dropped by 36%), but the figures have stagnated in recent years.

22 700 victims annually

Currently, around 22 700 people die on the roads in the EU every year, with about 120 000 seriously injured. According to recent figures, the safest roads remain in Sweden (18 deaths per million inhabitants) while Romania (85/million) reported the highest death rate in 2020. The EU average was 42 deaths per million inhabitants. With 44 deaths per million inhabitants, Belgium is just above the European average.

As speeding plays a role in 30% of fatal accidents, the Parliament wants a 30 km/hour general speed limit in residential areas and areas with many cyclists and pedestrians.

There should also be zero tolerance for alcohol and drugs, which are a factor in 25% and 15% of accidents respectively. “The impact of alcohol consumption in traffic is very high. Even with an alcohol level of 0,5%, you are 2,5 times more likely to have a fatal accident,” says MEP Kathleen Van Brempt (Vooruit) to Belga news agency. “Those who are under the influence do not belong behind the wheel.”

Zero traffic fatalities in 2050

The EU parliament asks the Commission and the member states to take action. It also wants more funds to be made available for member states to invest in safe traffic infrastructure and to consider incorporating a “driving safe mode” in drivers’ mobile and electronic devices to limit distractions while driving. There should also be tax incentives and attractive motor insurance schemes for purchasing and using vehicles with the highest safety standards.

Van Brempt also points out that the Member States can do even better in enforcing professional drivers’ driving and rest times. By 2050, the EU hopes to reduce the number of fatalities on the roads to zero.

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