14 Dec 2021


Transport crashes are listed by Eurostat as a major cause of death in the EU, particularly for persons aged less than 65 years, and transport safety is mainly an issue of road safety. Actually, road crashes account for about 96% of all transport fatalities in the EU. In its Road Safety Policy Framework 2021-2030, the EU, therefore, reaffirms its ambitious long-term goal to move close to zero road fatalities and serious injuries by 2050 (Vision Zero). Although the premise that no loss of life is acceptable shall inform all decision making on road safety accordingly, the EU is actually in a phase of stagnation in its efforts to improve road safety. Fatality and in particular injury figures have remained nearly constant from 2013 to 2019, and even if preliminary fatality figures show a massive reduction in 2020, this can most likely be attributed to lower traffic volumes during the COVID-19 crisis.

Clearly intensified efforts for the improvement of road safety are therefore needed, and research and innovation play key roles here. In this update of its Safe Road Transport Research Roadmap published in 2019, ERTRAC proposes a set of high-priority road safety research needs with their suggested timing for inclusion in Horizon Europe, the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation. These research needs represent a joint stakeholder view and have been developed in an iterative process intensively involving experts from European industry, academia, research providers, road user associations and public authorities amongst others. In this process, ERTRAC has adopted the Safe System Approach which implies that responsibility for road safety is shared by all relevant stakeholders including individual road users as well as system designers and operators from the public and private sector. As a consequence, all layers of safety need to be strengthened: road safety management, road infrastructure, vehicles, road user behaviour and post-crash response. The overall scope of this roadmap is therefore broad, covering all these layers, all road transport modes, all users and all phases from preventive to post-crash safety.

This update of the Safe Road Transport Research Roadmap complements the Strategic Research and Innovation Agendas of the CCAM and the 2Zero Partnership as well as several other ERTRAC roadmaps, in particular those on urban mobility and on Connected, Cooperative and Automated Mobility (CCAM). The joint stakeholder view on the long-term evolution of CCAM presented in the latter is actually an important basis for this Safe Road Transport Research Roadmap: Higher levels of automation show the potential to substantially improve road safety, but they will not avoid all crashes and will take a long time to be fully deployed on rural roads, which account for more than 50% of all road fatalities in the EU.

Download the roadmaps here.