On average, nearly 70 people die in a road crash every day – in Europe alone. European traffic police forces have teamed up to help bring this number down to zero – by launching the ROADPOL Safety Days and raising awareness of the current reality across Europe.
The ROADPOL Safety Days (formerly known as Project EDWARD) were initiated by ROADPOL, the network of European traffic police forces.
Although Europe is the region with the safest roads in the world, an estimated 22 800 people still lost their lives on EU roads last year. The EU’s long-term goal is to reach zero road deaths by 2050 ('Vision Zero'), but progress has slowed in recent years.
The ROADPOL Safety Days raise awareness of this issue, and take place every year alongside the European Mobility Week from 16 until 22 September. Activities vary across countries, but one central element of the campaign is counting the number of road deaths on one day during the week. The ultimate aim is for this figure to be zero – to be able to say that nobody is dying on Europe's streets. Some European cities are already delivering zero fatalities – so this is achievable!
Each year, one of ROADPOL’s member countries hosts the campaign’s main event. In 2020, it took place in Mainz, Germany. To launch the new campaign, representatives from partner and supporting organisations – the European Commission, the World Health Organisation, the European Transport Safety Council and Michelin – met online for a virtual panel discussion.
Image © Ministry of the Interior, Republic of Croatia: Traffic police forces during ROADPOL Safety Days in Karlovac, Croatia.
During the campaign week, ROADPOL’s members conducted additional and very visible traffic controls across Europe – not only to enforce traffic rules, but also to sensitise drivers to the dangers linked to speed, distraction or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, for example.
“Although traffic police forces have a crucial role in enforcement, participation is by no means limited to the police,” stresses ROADPOL President Volker Orben: “In fact, everyone can take part in the ROADPOL Safety Days – every single road user that wants to stand up for safer roads can sign our pledge, inform others about the campaign and be an ambassador for the importance of road safety. And the same holds true for cities, NGOs, companies, schools, universities and so many more potential road safety advocates – they can easily get involved by spreading the message, organising an event or simply getting in touch with us to see how we can work together. Road safety really involves all of us and we welcome everyone who is willing to help us achieve our common goal: no more deaths and serious injuries on Europe’s roads.“
As part of the campaign, all participating countries counted the number of road deaths on 17 September. In 2020, 16 of the 26 countries taking part achieved the objective of zero fatalities.
Overall, 34 fatalities were recorded on that day. The total number of fatalities on 17 September was therefore less than half of the EU average of nearly 70 deaths per day.
“These good results are very encouraging,” concludes Matthew Baldwin, European Coordinator for Road Safety at the European Commission. “But the overall outcome also shows that we need to do more to reach our Vision Zero – across the EU and beyond and not only on 17 September, but on every single day of the year. That’s what this campaign is ultimately all about! In the meantime, it is very valuable in drawing attention to the unacceptable number of people that still lose their lives on our roads and highlighting the crucial role of the police in enforcing traffic rules. The ROADPOL Safety Days remind us, every year in September, why more effort is needed – to make fatality-free days the rule, not the exception.”
Image © Ministry of the Interior, Republic of Croatia: Osijek: Motorcyclists forming ROADPOL Safety Days logo in Osijek, Croatia.
In this first campaign under the new name, a total of 26 countries participated in the initiative. 336 events took place across Europe and 667 people committed to safe driving by signing the campaign’s pledge.
Launching the rebranded campaign and establishing the new concept of the ROADPOL Safety Days in the year of the coronavirus was certainly not an easy task.
Looking back, ROADPOL’s General Secretary Heinz Albert Stumpen recaps:
“It was not only the first but also a very special edition of the ROADPOL Safety Days. Due to the ongoing pandemic, it had to take place mainly virtually – which was tricky, since we know that especially our real-life events and activities leave a lasting impression on participants. Many of the activities we’ve had in the past are unfortunately not exactly made for social distancing. So the launch of our campaign was quite different to what we initially had in mind – but thanks to the flexibility and commitment on all sides, we made it work and successfully launched the first of many ROADPOL Safety Days to come.”
For more information about the campaign and to learn more about events that took place in 2020 please visit;