The Corona crisis had an unprecedented impact on transport and the mobility of European citizens, bringing travel to a virtual standstill for several weeks. During the crisis, our travel and mobility behaviour has changed dramatically and "individual mobility is now more than ever indispensable", as EAC President Bernd Opolka emphasised at the end of April. "For the absolutely required mobility, such as for the journey to work, grocery shopping or seeing a doctor, there is often times no other alternative for your own car that is equally suitable and useful. You are on your own and can reduce the relatively manageable risk of infection, such as when charging or refueling, to a minimum by observing the known hygiene regulations."
"The crisis has given us a new perspective on our mobility", says EAC Vice President Holger Küster. "Suddenly we get an unmistakable proof for the importance of diversifying the offer of means of transport. If buses and trains are no longer fully available, you can count yourself lucky if you still have your own car. Now it is becoming clear that biased, general demands for the expulsion of the car were off the track."
The EU's High Level Group on Road Safety also noted a change in mobility: "There are now clear - and welcome - signs that economic activity is picking up again and that mobility on the roads is increasing accordingly. There is also evidence that more people are using individual forms of mobility such as the car - but there is also more walking and cycling - and less use of public transport".
But mobility in Europe will continue to change in the coming weeks and months as Europe gradually moves out of crisis mode into a transitional period, a period of gradual normalisation. Road safety is an essential area in this process, which was justifiably postponed during the height of the crisis, and rightly so. The EU High Level Group on Road Safety therefore held a discussion on 16 June on road safety in the COVID era and agreed on informal conclusions setting out common principles for the forthcoming transitional period:
obtain timely data on traffic volumes, accident victims, etc;
limit exemptions from road safety rules;
resuming proper enforcement;
restoring public confidence in public transport;
consolidate safe active mobility;
ensure investment in road safety;