Basis for a Europe-wide movement to curb accidental deaths at the end of traffic jams
A small virus has achieved what transport policy in the pursuit of Vision Zero has so far been unable to do on this scale and at this speed. In the pandemic years, the number of accident fatalities fell by almost 20 percent in Germany alone. 596 fewer deaths statistically reduce the suffering and stress disorders of more than 67,000 people around them.
In the shadow of these outstanding figures, however, the dramatic developments in the transport industry unfortunately pale into insignificance. Deaths at the end of traffic jams are sadly rising from record to record. While 48 drivers lost their lives in a collision in 2020, shortly before the end of 2021 the number had risen by another 46 percent to 70. And many seriously injured must be added to this.
While lockdown measures have put a brake on private transport, truck drivers have to ensure that the goods chain works and does not break off. The booming online goods trade did the rest. More and more transports over dilapidated bridge structures are adding to the rehabilitation backlog, causing traffic restrictions and thus increasing the risk of traffic jams.
Stress, lack of drivers, unhealthy sleep, monotony and the urge to be distracted while driving, but also Europe-wide training deficits with regard to life-saving assistance systems in HGVs are a dangerous mixture that increases the risk of death.
No lorry driver deliberately drives into the end of a traffic jam and all are hanging on for dear life. But many lack a vital awareness of danger. And they don't even realise on their own that they have to change something here. All those for whom a functioning supply chain is a core value must be brought together at this vital interface. Not only the transport companies, no, the manufacturing industry and the goods trade also bear a large share of the responsibility. Of course, transport and economic policy must also ensure a truck-friendly environment. However, the stressors for drivers can only be eliminated jointly by the economy, goods trade and logistics through socially sustainable cooperation. Politics can moderate this process. Empty shelves and undersupplied petrol stations are no longer a utopia for the coming years.
If this concertation could be turned into a movement, we would come very close to the Max Eighty idea and a European campaign. At the centre of this is our multilingual educational brochure. We know where the danger of death lurks. We know at what times it is increased. We know why accidents occur and we know that the causes of accidental death are almost exclusively to be found in distraction or microsleep, because the fatal impact occurs unbraked, i.e. with a run-up and the force of 40 tonnes.
The driver needs support in the company, in industry and trade, in politics, but also in society. Yes, they need appreciation, but also the unmistakable awareness that they are transporting 40 tonnes of responsibility.
When, if not now? Spreading and promoting the Max Eighty idea in your respective sphere of influence helps to curb accidental deaths. Please get involved.
It is time for change - time to stay alive.