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Belgium strives to reach zero traffic-related deaths by 2050

Credit: Belga

Belgium’s various mobility ministers have joined forces to launch a national plan for road safety which aims to eliminate all traffic-related deaths by 2050.

During the sixth General Assembly on Road Safety, the various mobility ministers introduced the first inter-federal plan for traffic safety, titled “All for Zero,” which will complement the existing system in which the various levels of regional government each have their own safety plan.

“Thinking in terms of compartments has not prevented a single traffic death,” Georges Gilkinet, Federal Mobility Minister, stated in a press release.

“That is why we now want to work together even better so that the policies at the different levels are attuned to one another and so that we can protect our citizens even better. Mobility is freedom and we can only enjoy it if we feel safe in traffic.”

The federal, Walloon, Brussels and Flemish governments want to ensure that by 2050 no one is killed in a road accident and that the number of seriously injured and risky behaviour is reduced by 90%.

From 644 deaths to zero

This collaboration across regional levels will be needed to reach the ambitious goal set by the ministers to eradicate traffic deaths by 2050, as in 2019, traffic accidents and other incidents took the lives of 644 people in Belgium.

As part of the “All for Zero” plan, the focus will be on guaranteeing the safety of active and vulnerable road users through knowledge sharing of accident data from police, hospitals and insurance companies, and adapted legislation for newer methods of transport.

It will also work on tackling unsafe driving behaviour, which includes speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medication, and driving without a seatbelt and is one of the main causes of road accidents, with more effective checks and penalties.

 

Ministers agreed that more effective controls and stricter sanctions, focussing on changing behaviour and mentality, are needed for the most dangerous drivers and especially repeat offenders, as 34.5% of drivers involved in a traffic accident between 2014 and 2019 in Belgium are repeat offenders.

Accomplishing ambitions

Brussels is looking to take this target of zero deaths a step further by opting to reach the goal by 2030, and according to Elke Van den Brandt, Brussels Mobility Minister, the Zone 30 initiative – which has imposed a general speed limit of 30 km/h across most of the city – will play a big role in achieving this.

“The general 30 km/h zone and the accelerated removal of dangerous junctions are our spearheads. Road safety is an absolute priority in the mobility policy, and we apply the child standard: every child of 12 must be able to move around safely in traffic,” she said.

An intermediate objective has been set across all regions and the federal level, aiming for a 50% reduction in the number of victims and serious injuries, as well as a reduction in risky behaviour by 2030. Ministers will implement a step-by-step approach to reach this goal by evaluating the plan annually.

“It is essential that the policies conducted at federal and regional levels are well coordinated. We are not just pedestrians or motorists: the road belongs to everyone and it is important to take into account the risks to other road users,” said Valérie De Bue, Walloon Minister for Road Safety.

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