The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) has welcomed a call by the 28 EU ministers of transport for a long term target and action to cut serious injuries on European roads by 2030.

In a declaration signed in the Maltese capital Valletta, transport ministers recommitted to an existing EU target to halve roads deaths by 2020 and also promised long term targets for reducing deaths and, for the first time, serious injuries by half by 2030.

At the end of March, the European Commission published new data showing that recent slow progress in reducing road deaths in Europe continued last year. Deaths reduced by just 2% in 2016, following an increase of 1% in 2015.

A total of 25,500 people died on European roads in 2016. It’s estimated that around 135,000 are also seriously injured annually, according to data published by the Commission last year. While deaths have been reduced substantially over the last decade, serious injuries have not declined at the same rate.

Antonio Avenoso, Executive Director of ETSC, who attended the meeting in Valletta said: “We warmly welcome today’s call from transport ministers for long-term strategic targets to reduce deaths and, for the first time, serious injuries on EU roads. But in the short term, urgent action is needed. Minimum EU vehicle safety standards have not been updated since 2009 despite rapid advances in new technology that can help drivers avoid collisions.

“Plans to update vehicle safety standards were postponed again last month until March 2018. But every day of delay will lead to more unnecessary deaths and serious injuries on our roads. If the EU and member states are serious about putting an end to the 500 deaths on European roads every week, they must act now.”

The Valletta Declaration can be viewed here.