Minimum road infrastructure safety standards will be extended to national roads across the EU following a provisional deal on new legislation.

Existing EU rules require governments to carry out regular road safety audits, identify high-risk sites and prioritise safety when building new roads but this only applies to major European roads known collectively as the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T).

A revised version of the rules extends these measures to all motorways, all “primary roads” and all non-urban roads that receive EU funding.

The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), and other organisations, have been calling for all main urban and rural roads to be covered. EU policymakers representing the European Commission, Parliament and Member States did not agree to extend the rules to that extent but countries will still be able to go further if they wish.

“This legislation contains the introduction of new procedures that will lead to better road design, better safety management, and more high risk sites being treated,” said Ellen Townsend, ETSC Policy Director. “Ultimately we would like to see this approach applied to every road in the EU – but this deal is nevertheless an important step forward.”

According to research for the European Commission, the proposed measures could save 3,200 lives and prevent more than 20,000 serious injuries over the period 2020-2030.

The EU has agreed that common specifications for road signs and road markings across Europe should be developed. For the first time, the legislation will also require road management authorities to take into account the safety of vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists, when planning and managing road infrastructure.