Safer roads – EU strengthens rules on road infrastructure management

The EU wants to reduce road fatalities and serious injuries by making sure that roads, tunnels and bridges are better designed and maintained. With this in mind, the Council today adopted revised rules setting out a more systematic approach to safer road infrastructure. The reform is part of the EU’s efforts to meet its strategic objectives of halving the number of road deaths by 2020, compared to 2010, and moving close to zero fatalities by 2050.

The revised directive will extend the scope of the current rules to motorways and other primary roads beyond the trans-European transport network (TEN-T). Statistics suggest that this will help to make road infrastructure significantly safer across the EU. The rules will also cover roads outside urban areas that are built using EU funding.

Member states will be required to carry out a network-wide road safety assessment at least every five years. The network-wide assessment is a snapshot of the entire road network covered by the directive, and is used to evaluate accident risk. Authorities will use the findings to carry out more targeted road safety inspections or take direct remedial action. The first network-wide road safety assessments are due by 2024 at the latest.

It will become mandatory to take systematic account of pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users in road safety management procedures. These road users accounted for almost half of the road fatalities in the EU in 2017.

Procedure and next steps

Today’s vote by the Council concludes the legislative procedure. A provisional agreement was reached between the Romanian presidency and the European Parliament on 21 February 2019.

The directive will now be published in the EU Official Journal. It will enter into force 20 days after publication. Member states will then have two years in which to adopt national provisions to put it in practice.