Traffic is increasing
"Although traffic is increasing the number of accidents has thankfully been reduced - but perhaps not at the rate one would like to see. It becomes harder and more expensive to reduce the accident figures as time goes by. Only Sweden is pursuing a vision of zero accidents," says Peter Christensen, Head of the Traffic Planning Department at COWI.
Reaching this goal became even more challenging when ten new member countries entered the EU in 2004. These new members are facing some of the same problems seen in developing countries: huge growth in traffic, but an infrastructure that is not geared to handle so many new cars on the roads. Also the new EU countries have no track record or experience in long-term, systematic traffic management or safety protocols.
Improve the infrastructure
To reduce the number of accidents, COWI's traffic experts suggest improving not only the infrastructure but also the way drivers behave and the technology in their cars. Many accidents occur because of the way drivers react in a road culture that is merciless towards those who make mistakes.
"Most accidents happen when people drive too fast, overtake where they aren't supposed to, drive under the influence of alcohol, and overestimate their own abilities. And while there is talk of older people being involved in more accidents, there is no evidence to support this. It is the younger generation that causes the most accidents," says Jesper Mertner, a senior project manager in COWI.
By Christina Tækker