Europe wants road deaths cut by 50%

* Wants to halve road deaths by 2020 * Annual death toll currently at 35,000 * Can the target be met?...

Europe wants road deaths cut by 50%

A new target by the European Commission (EC) to halve road deaths in Europe by 2020 has been welcomed, but doubts have been voiced over whether it can be achieved.

In 2009, 35,000 people were killed on European Union (EU) roads. The UK tally dropped by 12% to 2222 from previous figures.

Head of road safety for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents Kevin Clinton said: 'Moving forward together on road safety is good for the EU. Member states have much they can learn from each other. Given its position as a road safety leader, the UK can share a lot from its experience.'

While the European Transport Safety Commission (ETSC) also welcomed the target, it said: 'the measures announced by the European Commission call seriously into question the chances of reaching it.'

The ETSC said there was no mention of work-related accidents and that more emphasis should have been placed on making the road infrastructure safer.

It also said the EC had failed to prioritise the best methods for cutting deaths by speeding, drink driving and the non-use of seatbelts.

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) called the plan a 'missed opportunity' and said the EC should have focussed more on driver training.

IAM policy director Neil Greig said: 'There is convincing evidence that further training makes drivers safer, and could be relatively cost-effective.'