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Motorcyclists deserve a full role in road safety policies

FEMA wants motorcycles and other powered two-wheelers to be included in Europe’s road safety plans.

FEMA studied the European Commission’s latest road safety plans and wrote an extensive response, stating that the plans focus on cars only and do not sufficiently take motorcyclists into account. FEMA can and will not support an approach that is not safe for all road users, including motorcyclists.

The road safety policy of the European Commission is based on the ‘Vision Zero’ doctrine that was developed in Sweden. This doctrine and the resulting ‘Safe System’ approach is focussed on cars. What this means in practice is visible on Swedish roads, where motorcyclists often feel very uncomfortable and unsafe. (photograph courtesy of Wikipedia).

The European Commission published its Road Safety Policy Framework, called ‘Next steps towards Vision Zero’. The Commission sets new intermediate targets to halve the number of fatalities and serious injuries on European roads by 2030. According to Mrs Adina-Ioana Vălean, EU Commissioner for Transport: “The Framework provides a comprehensive set of measures for priority areas such as improving the cross-border enforcement of traffic offences, modernising driving licences and preparing the safe transition to higher levels of automation), and links them with financing solutions. It also includes monitoring on the basis of key performance indicators to assess progress. And it addresses the EU’s role in improving road safety on a global scale.”

FEMA calls upon the European Parliament, the European Commission, and the Council to include motorcyclists and other users of L-category vehicles in the road safety policy in a way that is not restrictive for these road users.

Below is a summary of our response to the European Commission. Click here to read our full response (7 pages in pdf format)

The EU Road Safety Policy Framework 2021-2030 has a large impact on all road users. As an organization that represents the motorcyclists in Europe, FEMA considers this policy insufficiently tailored to motorcyclists and other users of L-category vehicles. Assumptions, plans and key performance indicators are very much focussed on cars and do not sufficiently take other road users into account. In this view we follow the four pillars of the EU Road Safety Policy Framework 2021-2030. Only KPIs (key performance indicators) that are relevant for motorcyclists are mentioned here.

1. Infrastructure – safe roads and roadsides
Motorcyclists need smooth roads, obstacle free roadsides and safety barriers that are fitted in a safe way. The KPI (key performance indicator) for infrastructure – Percentage of distance driven over roads with a safety rating above an agreed threshold – must include motorcycles.

2. Safe vehicles
In the plans for vehicle safety as formulated by the Commission, we miss powered two-wheelers. The KPI for vehicle safety – Percentage of new passenger cars with a Euro NCAP safety rating equal or above a predefined threshold (e.g. 4-star) – to be specified further -ignores vehicle safety for powered two-wheelers. We invite the European Commission to also develop a KPI for vehicle safety that is focussed on powered two-wheelers and other L-category vehicles.

3. Safe road use
We support the intention to update the UNECE regulation concerning safety belt reminders, a more effective cross-border enforcement on traffic offences, stricter limits on blood alcohol content for professional drivers and/or novice drivers. We are of the opinion that the Commission with the possible revision of the present European driving licence directive should abolish the stepped entry to the A-licence or at least set it up in such a way that it does not form an additional threshold and the focus must be on higher level skills.


  • The KPI for speed: Percentage of vehicles travelling within the speed limit. Speed limits have several functions and road safety is one of them. Other reasons to introduce a speed limit can be noise annoyance, air pollution, traffic flow, etcetera. Furthermore, different member states have very different speed limits on comparable roads. Finally, there is a difference between speed limits and safe speeds. The latter can be much lower, depending on the local situation, traffic situation, weather, vehicle. To connect speed limit to safe speed and base a KPI on that is not logical for us.
  • The KPI for sober driving: Percentage of drivers driving within the legal limit for blood alcohol content (BAC). Although this seems a logical KPI, again legal limits differ per member state and per driver category.
  • The KPI for protective equipment: Percentage of riders of powered two-wheelers and of cyclists wearing a protective helmet. Although we have no problem with this KPI, we are of the opinion that the latter may not be the most logical KPI. Especially the combination of the (in most cases) mandatory crash helmet usage for riders of powered two-wheelers and the (in most cases) voluntary use of helmets for cyclists will give a distorted picture.

4. Emergency response
About the key performance indicator for post-crash care: Time elapsed in minutes and seconds between the emergency call following a collision resulting in personal injury, and the arrival at the scene of the emergency services, we would like to see this KPI to be used for crashes with all vehicles, not only for cars.

Written by Dolf Willigers

Top photograph by Wim Taal

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