For many years now, the Federal Government, in cooperation with numerous groups and institutions engaged in road safety, has been conducting intensive and successful road safety activities. In 2013, 3,339 people were killed in road accidents. This shows that the number of road accident fatalities has again decreased significantly in comparison to 2012 (3,600 deaths), which was the year with the lowest number of people killed in road accidents. In 1970, with the vehicle fleet and vehicle mileage being only one third of what they are today, the number of people killed in road accidents still amounted to more than 21,300 (taking East and West Germany together).
As a reaction to the changed environment and new challenges in road traffic resulting, among others, from demographic change and revolutionary technological developments, Federal Minister Dr Ramsauer presented a new road safety programme in 2011. Demographic change is a feature that will have profound consequences for life in Germany. Not only will the population decline in the long term, but more and more people in Germany will also become older and older. In consequence, the number of elderly people claiming their place in the public street environment as pedestrians and public transport users or with their own car or bicycle until a very old age will rise in relation to the overall population.
New challenges to road safety will also arise from the fact that an ever growing fleet of electric, hybrid and fuel cell powered vehicles is expected be operating on German roads in the coming decades. Changes in the way we communicate and obtain information also impact road safety and need to be taken into account. Furthermore, road safety policy is to focus more on critically injured casualties. To this end, it is necessary to first identify the number of and the most frequent patterns in critically injured casualties by means of a detailed definition. Inappropriate behaviour on the part of individuals all too often proves to be a major cause of accidents - despite modern technology and its important contribution to road safety. It is thus logical that road users are at the focus of the continuing efforts to enhance road safety. One of the priorities of the programme is the protection of vulnerable road users, including children as well as senior citizens.
In the future, road safety measures will continue to be geared towards exploiting the scope for reducing the number of accidents wherever this appears feasible. As in the past, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure will not be guided by illusory targets, but will continue to take pragmatic action in the interests of the public, in order to achieve optimum results.
Road safety – a task for society
The objective of the Federal Government's transport policy is to facilitate safe mobility for all citizens. Road safety is not just the responsibility of policymakers, but is something that concerns society as a whole. The new road safety programme is thus also a call to all associations, companies, initiatives, groups and individuals involved in road safety activities to continue their commitment. Further progress in road safety can only be accomplished if all stakeholders make their necessary contribution to this important task.