Mr. Chairman, dear colleagues,
I would like to use this opportunity to speak about road safety, which is a key issue for me and the Danish government.
The Danish government is increasing its effort to secure that the number of traffic accidents will continue to fall. We have seen a very positive development in the last years. Road fatalities have been reduced with 34% in the years from 2000 to 2005. However, it is our goal to be among the best countries in the world. Every traffic accident affects human lives. This is the case for the people involved in the traffic accident and for the relatives to the killed and injured. This is why we need to keep focus on this topic.
A special focus will be on more secure roads. The effort is to make the roads more "understanding" and "forgiving". Better signals and information will make the roads more logical for the road users. It is also important to change the roads so that consequences will be reduced, when accidents happen. Tools in this regard are moving or screening objects along the roads and construction of crash barriers.
We have created a special fund earmarked for the improvement of "black spot" sites. The government yearly allocates approximately 60 million DKK (8 million EUR) to this special fund. Every year a list of countermeasures at "black spots" on state roads is prepared after the principle "most road safety for the money".
Safety equipment and safety capacities of vehicles are another key focus for the Danish government. Denmark is and will in the future be in front, when safety standards for vehicles are decided in the EU. Constructive discussions with the transport sector are also very important. One issue for discussion at the moment is an improved education for professional drivers.
Accidents involving trucks and bicyclist are a specific area of high priority. In Denmark we have seen some tragic accidents with trucks making right turns without seeing bicyclists going straight. A number of measures have been initiated to improve the situation. We have especially put focus on the adjustment of the mirrors of the trucks. Furthermore the Danish Investigation Board for Road Accidents is doing a study of these accidents, with the aim to come with new proposals.
Our struggle with these accidents is an international problem. Not all international truck drivers driving in Denmark are familiar, with the large number of bicyclists that we have on the roads. I strongly encourage all ECMT- countries to make sure that their international truck drivers are educated and informed about driving on roads, where bicyclists are a considerable and integrated part of the traffic.
Increased use of new technology to improve road safety is also an important focus area. There is a great potential in new technology to improve the interaction between road, road user and vehicle. Denmark will prepare a national strategy for the use of intelligent traffic systems with a specific focus on traffic safety. In this regard variable traffic signs can be an important factor, especially since we in Denmark are looking at the options for more differentiated speed limits.
With an organisational reform we aim to create an even better and more focused management of road safety. Bigger and more specialised units at both the national and local level will be one of the results of the reform. I am confident that it will improve the framework for road safety work and ensure even more cost efficient management of road safety efforts.
National goals and visions are important tools for an effective road safety effort. The objectives of the Danish Road Safety Commission ’s from 2001-2012 are based on the vision that "Every accident is one to many". All relevant public and private road safety actors involved in infrastructure, vehicles and behaviour are part of the Commission. Furthermore politicians are represented in the Commission. I believe that the organisation of the Danish Road Safety Commission helps to increase public awareness and commitment of decision makers to its objectives.
The Commission's objectives regarding killed and injured were included in the Government Platform "New Goals" from February 2005. The government emphasises the importance of a specific effort for road safety and a special focus on “black spot” sites.
With these words I would like to reaffirm the Danish commitment to the objective of reducing road facilities by 50% by 2012, which was decided at the session in Bucharest in 2002. I would like to encourage all member states to keep the necessary focus and take action where needed, so that the target of reducing road fatalities will be reached.