A total of 655 people died in motor accidents in Bulgaria in 2014, a figure nine per cent higher than the figure for 2013, according to a new report by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC).
Bulgaria had seen a steady if slightly uneven decrease in the number of road deaths since 2009, when 901 people died on the country’s roads.
In 2010, the figure was 776, dropping to 658 in 2011, 605 in 2012, and 601 in 2013. These figures were strikingly lower than the peaks reported in the ETSC summary: 1011 roads in Bulgaria in 2001 and 1043 in 2006.
In all, from 2001 to 2014, a total of 12 136 people died in motor accidents in Bulgaria.
The ETSC said in its annual report that progress on reducing road deaths in the EU slowed to just -0.6 per cent in 2014, the worst annual reduction since the first common EU target was set in 2001,
EU member states now need to cut deaths by almost eight per cent each year until 2020 to meet the target set in 2010 to halve deaths within a decade.
France, Ireland, Germany and the UK were among the 12 EU member states that saw an increase in the number of road deaths last year compared with 2013.
On a positive note Croatia, Slovenia, Finland, Greece, Luxembourg and Malta all recorded reductions of about 10 per cent or more.
ETSC executive director Antonio Avenoso said: “These latest figures reinforce the message that road safety requires consistent political support at the highest level, constant vigilance on enforcement and network safety management, and the need to respond to evolving challenges such as increased numbers of people walking and cycling and an ageing society.
“It’s very disappointing to see the UK, a road safety champion, dropping its guard in recent years: we are now seeing the fallout with progress slowing and even going into reverse,” Avenoso said.
“Slovenia, our 2015 PIN Award winner, deserves huge credit for its commitment to robust targets, establishment of a dedicated road safety agency and a detailed plan of action. Nevertheless, Slovenia has a lot of work still to do to close the gap with the safest countries.”
Slovenia has reduced annual road deaths by 61 per cent since 2001.
The new figures show that in 2014, more than 200 000 people were seriously injured in road collisions in the EU, a rise of three per cent in one year. The numbers of people suffering life-changing injuries have fallen more slowly than deaths for several years and even increased last year.
EU traffic police network TISPOL said that it shares ETSC’s concern that a planned EU strategic target to reduce serious injuries appears to have been dropped despite being repeatedly promised by the current European Commission.
“TISPOL joins ETSC in calling for the EU to commit to making key safety technologies such as Automated Emergency Braking (AEB), overridable Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA), intelligent seat belt reminders for passenger seats and an interface for alcohol interlock devices to be made standard on all new vehicles,” the traffic police network said.
(Photo: Jason Conlon)