Publication

Policy instruments for managing EU road safety targets: carrots, sticks or sermons?

An analysis and suggestions for the USA

Author(s)

Bax, Ch.

Year

2011

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This report investigates EU policy on road safety targets and the strategies used to achieve these targets. The outcome will be used to provide the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) with ideas to adopt these strategies in the United States. The FHWA and AASHTO desired a paper ""that summarizes how the European Commission and its related transportation organizations have supported the setting of ambitious crash-reduction targets among its diverse 27 European members"". The present paper goes slightly beyond this. Because the road safety targets are set for the EU as a whole and are not binding for the individual Member States, this paper also examines which other policy instruments the EU uses to help Member States to implement the road safety policy. The research questions answered in this report were as follows: - Which policy instruments does the EU use to achieve its road safety targets? - Are these policy instruments effective? - How can these measures be translated into suggestions for the US to set and achieve national road safety targets? Three types of policy instruments are used in the EU to achieve the road safety targets. In policy instrument theories, these three types of policy instruments are called regulation, economic instruments and information instruments, also referred to as sticks, carrots and sermons. The EU uses a mix of these instruments. Regarding the regulation instruments, the EU has developed several directives on various road safety issues. Directives are EU legislation that does not have a direct effect in the Member States, but that the Member States are obliged to implement in their respective countries within a given time frame. In addition to official legislation, the EU also produces so-called soft law on road safety which comprises policy documents, action plans, policy targets, guidelines et cetera and is not binding for the Member States. Some important documents are the 2001 White paper on European transport policy which provided an EU road safety target of halving the number of casualties between 2001 and 2010, followed by the 2003 Road Safety Action Programme. More recent is the 2010 Road Safety Action Programme with a similar target for 2020 and the 2011 White Paper on Transport which even has the ambition to reach zero fatalities in 2050. Regarding the economic instruments, the EU does finance many road safety research projects. A detailed indication of the amounts spent on road safety research is not available, although it is indicated that the EU has spent 500 million Euro on road safety research since 1994. Furthermore, the EU contributes to the funds of interest organisations. Regarding the information instrument, the EU provides information on road safety data and measures through databases such as CARE, websites such as ERSO and through research projects. It also stimulates benchmarking between Member States through various instruments. Decision-making on road safety and road safety targets Proposals for directives and soft law such as the White Papers on Transport and the Road Safety Action Programmes are made by the Road Safety Unit of the European Commission. The proposals are discussed by the Ministers of Transport of the 27 Member States in the Council of Ministers and in the High Level Group Road Safety. The European Parliament (EP) must also approve the EC proposals. The EP often plays an encouraging role in road safety policy and sometimes takes parliamentary initiatives. Furthermore, interest groups such as the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) and the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), but also the automotive industry, influence the decision making. Nonetheless, interviews revealed an often long decision making process and Member States often seem to be reluctant to accept EU policy on road safety. Therefore, road safety targets are not binding and there are few directives on road safety. Achieving the road safety target Although the road safety target of 50% fewer road deaths in 2010 has not officially been met, an overall decrease of 43% in fatalities can be called a success for road safety in the European Union. Whether this decrease is the actual result of the EU road safety policy and the setting of road safety targets can not be scientifically answered in this paper, although certain studies suggest that a connection is plausible. Four important elements of the EU approach To conclude, four important elements in the EU approach on setting and achieving road safety targets have been observed in the above study. These four elements are: 1. Use a variety of policy instruments. 2. Build a broad network of road safety related organisations. 3. Do not underestimate the facilitating role. 4. Steer on effect, not on implementation.

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