The European Transport Safety Council has released a new report which suggests that a decline in the enforcement of road traffic offences is a factor in the failure of road casualties falling. Their claim is based upon research collated from two separate reports. The reports have looked into both road deaths, casualties and how traffic law policing contributes to road safety.
The ETSC report into road traffic enforcement was published on 19th June. It looked into the number of speeding tickets, tickets for non-use of seatbelts, tickets for mobile phone use and alcohol breath tests were taken, per head of population. These figures were used to create a picture of traffic police enforcement across Europe. The results were based on the assumption that the figures collected were ‘broadly proportionate to the level of enforcement activitiy.’
The laws in different countries make collating European data difficult. However, the report shows that in more than 50% of the countries who provided data, the number of penalties issued over the past five years specifically for mobile phone offences, has fallen. Speeding is harder to measure because of the different policing methods in different countries. However, the ETSC assert that the mobile phone figures are evidence of less enforcement.
Less Enforcement connected with Stalling Road Deaths
Finland, Sweden and The Netherlands are pinpointed by the ETSC as having some of the biggest slowdowns in reducing road deaths. They have all reported a reduction in a number of the speeding tickets issued. The United Kingdom has been described by the ETSC as having rates which are ‘slow to reduce’. It also found that the number of tickets issued fell after 2010, when government cuts had a significant impact on enforcement levels. This is backed up by a May 2016 RAC report. The report suggests that the number of full-time traffic enforcement officers working in England and Wales has decreased by nearly a third since 2010.
The full figures from the ETSC showed that over 26,000 people died on EU roads in 2015. Speaking on behalf of the council, executive director Antonio Avenoso commented: “Cuts to police enforcement are doubly damaging. Fewer dangerous drivers are caught, and overall perception of the risk of being caught also decreases.
“While there is increasing pressure to reprioritise policing budgets across Europe, it makes no sense to cut back on road safety. 26,000 are still dying each year on our roads, and the numbers will not start to decrease again without concerted action.”
The report did also mention that there has been increased enforcement levels in the UK recently. This means there is hope that this will continue so the number of road deaths can begin to fall again.