European Initiatives and Developments in Road Transport Safety

European Initiatives and Developments in Road Transport Safety


R Lunsingh Scheurleer, NEA Transport Research and Training, NL



Road transport is an important economic activity in the EU market. Moreover freight flows are increasing, particularly within new Member States. There is a tension between the short term interests of road haulage companies in a very competitive market and the ambitions for truck safety. The fundamental challenge is balance the interest of the sector against the importance of road safety. This balance is presently too much driven by competition, often at the cost of safety. This is proven by a consistent non-compliance with fundamental rules for weights, driver's hours etc and the reluctance of operators to invest in safety equipment and training. In general society can however not blame the individual operators for this. The operators respond to a demand for their services in an environment where price is decisive to attract customers

With a view to the objective of halving the number of road accident victims in 2010, as is introduced in the European Commission's White Paper on European Transport, the European Commission has launched a number of projects in the past two years. The objective of halving the number of road accident victims has recently been restated in the European Road Safety Acton Programme. Road Haulage transport plays an important role in fulfilling this objective.

The paper will largely be based upon a number of studies that are being carried out in 2004 and 2005 on behalf of the European Commission.

The paper will take into account the outcomes of a study on the safety culture in European road haulage companies that is being finalized at this moment. In this study an analysis of the existing situation of road safety within transport companies was made while at the same time best practices in the USA, Australia and New Zealand were studied. This has all lead to an 'Action Package' with specified strategies for increasing road safety in European road transport companies in the wide range between Community level and individual companies.

Another study on the admission to the occupation of road transport operator touches road safety on a policy level. Each road transport operator needs to meet three requirements to obtain a license. He has to be of good repute, has to have a certain financial standing and has to possess a Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC). Especially the first and last point relate to road safety. Good repute means that the operator may not have been convicted of serious offences, including the ones related to rest and driving times and road safety. In practice however, violations of the laws regarding these matters are hardly ever taken into account when handing out a license. Concerning the CPC it turns out that there are many ways to be exempted from taking any examination and thus obtain the license without having studied the relevant issues on road safety.
Finally, the paper will take into account the first outcomes of study that was recently started on the training in relation to the enforcement of the Road Transport Acquis. The general aim of this study is to identify the different enforcement authorities for road transport in each member state and to describe how they organize training for the enforcement staff with a view to establish the nature and extent of cooperation between different enforcement authorities in the EU. The lack of transparency in the competences of the enforcement agencies leads to a lack of coordination of checks and difference in the range and extent of these checks.


Association for European Transport