Road safety: 4,000 fewer people lost their lives on EU roads in 2020 as death rate falls to all-time low

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Today the European Commission published preliminary figures on road fatalities for 2020. An estimated 18,800 people were killed in a road crash last year, an unprecedented annual fall of 17% on 2019. This means almost 4,000 fewer people lost their lives on EU roads in 2020 compared to 2019. Lower traffic volumes, as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, had a clear, though unmeasurable, impact on the number of road fatalities.

Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said: “With almost 4,000 fewer deaths on EU roads in 2020, compared to 2019, our roads remain the safest in the world. Still, we are behind our target for the last decade and joint action is needed to prevent a return to pre-COVID levels. In our Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, we have reiterated our commitment to implementing the EU road safety strategy and bringing down the death toll for all modes of transport close to zero.”

EU’s roads by far the safest in the world

Over the previous decade between 2010 and 2020, the number of road deaths dropped by 36%. This was short of the target of 50% fewer deaths that had been set for that decade. However, with 42 road deaths per 1 million inhabitants, the EU remains the continent with the safest roads in the world. As a comparison, the world average lies at more than 180.

Based on preliminary figures, 18 Member States registered their lowest ever number of road fatalities in 2020. EU-wide, deaths fell by an average of 17% compared to 2019 though the reduction was far from uniform with the largest decreases (of 20% or more) occurring in Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Hungary, Malta and Slovenia. In contrast, five Member States (Estonia, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg and Finland) recorded an increase in fatalities although the number in small countries tends to fluctuate from year to year.

Over a longer timeline, the number of deaths on Europe’s roads fell by 36% between 2010 and 2020, below the EU target of 50%. Only Greece (54%) exceeded the target followed by Croatia (44%), Spain (44%), Portugal (43%), Italy (42%) and Slovenia (42%). In total, nine Member States recorded falls of 40% or more.

While the unprecedented developments in 2020 led to some changes in the ranking of countries’ fatality rates, the safest roads remain in Sweden (18/million) while Romania (85/million) reported the highest rate in 2020. The EU average was 42/million.

Impact of the pandemic hard to measure

Lower traffic volumes, as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, had a clear, though unmeasurable, impact on the number of road fatalities. However, preliminary data in the US, for example, show that fatalities spiked in 2020 in spite of lower traffic volumes. Indeed, evidence in some EU countries also points to an increase in risk-taking behaviour, in particular speeding, during lockdown periods.

Impact on urban mobility as a result of COVID-19

Cycling has experienced a significant rise in popularity and many cities around the world (temporarily) reallocated road space to cyclists and pedestrians. This encouraging development can have a significant positive impact on air quality and climate change and at the same time creates new road safety challenges.

EU-wide, around 70% of road fatalities in urban areas involve vulnerable road users which includes pedestrians, motorcyclist and cyclists. Tackling road safety in cities is therefore a key area of focus and the Commission wants to ensure that road safety is taken into account at all stages of urban mobility planning. Road Safety will be an important element of the new Urban Mobility Initiative to be brought forward by the Commission later this year. In this regard, two European capitals, Helsinki and Oslo, achieved the milestone of zero pedestrian and cyclist deaths in 2019, citing speed reductions as essential to progress.

Background

These figures are being released on the occasion of the EU Road Safety Results Conference, which brings together policymakers, civil society and road safety practitioners to assess the state of play of road safety in the EU and how best to take the next steps towards ‘Vision Zero’.

The Stockholm Declaration of February 2020 paved the way for further global political commitment with the UN General Assembly Resolution on road safety proclaiming the period 2021–2030 as the Second Decade of Action for Road Safety and including a new reduction target for 2030. In this regard, the EU had already taken the lead and set itself a new 50% reduction target for deaths – and, for the first time, also serious injuries – by 2030. This was set out in the Commission’s Strategic Action Plan on Road Safety and EU road safety policy framework 2021-2030 in 2018 and 2019 which also set out ambitious road safety plans to reach zero road deaths by 2050 (‘Vision Zero’). This included setting out key performance indicators for safe roads and roadsides; safe vehicles; safe road use, including safe speed, sober driving, preventing driving while distracted and use of safety belts and protective equipment; and fast and effective post-crash care.

For More Information

2020 road safety statistics: what is behind the figures?

Commission’s road safety work and EU road safety statistics and analysis

 Road deaths per million inhabitants – preliminary data for 2020

201020192020% change 2019-2020% change 2010-2020
EU-27675142-17%-36%
Belgium785644-22%-40%
Bulgaria1059067-26%-40%
Czechia775848-16%-35%
Denmark463427-22%-39%
Germany453733-11%-25%
Estonia59394515%-24%
Ireland4729306%-30%
Greece1136454-16%-54%
Spain533729-21%-44%
France645039-21%-36%
Croatia997358-20%-44%
Italy705340-25%-42%
Cyprus735954-8%-20%
Latvia10369747%-35%
Lithuania956763-6%-41%
Luxembourg64364218%-19%
Hungary746246-25%-39%
Malta313221-31%-15%
Netherlands323431-8%1%
Austria664738-19%-39%
Poland1037765-15%-37%
Portugal806352-18%-43%
Romania1179685-12%-31%
Slovenia674938-22%-42%
Slovakia695045-9%-33%
Finland5138404%-19%
Sweden282218-14%-29%
     
Switzerland42222621%-31%
Norway432018-11%-54%
Iceland25172233%0%

There was one road fatality in Liechtenstein in 2020 and zero in 2010 and 2019.


The Transport Community published similar data on fatalities in 2020 for the Western Balkans’ regional participants on 15 April (https://www.transport-community.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Annual-Statistics-2020.pdf).


The 2020 figures are based on provisional data for some countries and may be subject to minor changes when the final data are released in autumn 2021. The percentage changes in the table are based on the absolute number of fatalities, not the rate per million inhabitants.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

The EU responds to US challenges by fining Apple with €13 billion

The true EU unemployment rate may have soared to 21.9%

‘No hope’ global development goals can be achieved without women, says UN Assembly President

4 big trends for the sharing economy in 2019

South Sudan: UN calls for end to inter-communal clashes, attacks against aid workers

Falsified medicines: new rules to enhance patients’ safety

Brexit: new European Parliament reaffirms wholehearted support for EU position

Sanity in times of COVID-19

This innovative project fuses journalism and music to highlight lawlessness at sea

2019 EU Budget: Commission proposes a budget focused on continuity and delivery – for growth, solidarity, security

How Egypt’s economy can continue to thrive during a global pandemic

Ebola in DR Congo: conflict zones could constitute ‘hiding places’ for the deadly virus – WHO chief

From raised fists at the 1968 Olympics to taking the knee: A history of racial justice protests in sport

Coronavirus: a common approach for safe and efficient mobile tracing apps across the EU

EU Trust Fund for Africa: new migration-related actions to protect vulnerable people and foster resilience of host communities in North of Africa

Delhi Declaration: Countries agree to make ‘land degradation neutrality’ by 2030, a national target for action

Parliament declares the European Union an ‘‘LGBTIQ Freedom Zone’’

Coronavirus response: How the Capital Markets Union can support Europe’s recovery

The fight for female medical leadership

India should ‘unlock’ freedom curbs in disputed Kashmir, urges UN human rights chief

10 cities are predicted to gain megacity status by 2030

Contact the Sting

Why lockdowns can halt the spread of COVID-19

Coronavirus: Commission adopts package of measures to further support the agri-food sector

11 lessons the history of business can teach us about its future

Inspired by orange peel, this ‘plastic’ packaging is totally compostable

When should you self-isolate, self-quarantine or social-distance?

AI will drive the societies of the future. Will the governed consent?

Record numbers of people in the UK have applied to study nursing

How governments and mobile operators are easing network congestion during the COVID-19 crisis

Fair transition to digital and green economy: a new social agenda for Europe

Parliament ready to fight for a different EU budget

How listening to patients could change the way we tackle cancer

Novartis and Johnson & Johnson to deprive Europeans of their right to Health

Innovation and entrepreneurship can cut waste and deliver the circular economy

EU: Huge surplus in the trade of services with the rest of the world

Brexit: No deal without marginalizing the hard Tory Eurosceptic MPs

Is there a way out of the next financial crisis? Can more printed money or austerity save us all?

In 1975 NASA envisioned future life in space would look like this

Why press freedom should be at the top of everyone’s agenda

How AI and satellite imaging can stamp out modern slavery

Technology is a force for peace and prosperity. Don’t let its challenges obscure this

Electronics can trigger a more circular, sustainable world – here’s how

Here are four steps SMEs can take for long-term success

Who will win the AI race? If countries work together, then the answer could be all of us

We can meet the SDGs using the wisdom of crowds. Here’s how

Deepening Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union: Commission takes stock of progress

The ASEAN Community sees the light: the genesis of a new powerful economic and political bloc and EU’s big opportunity

Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into proposed acquisition of GrandVision by EssilorLuxottica

‘Growing alarm’ over Fall Armyworm advance, with cash crops ‘under attack’ across Asia

It’s a week dedicated to all EU budgets; seven days that can make or break the Union

Thursday’s Daily Brief: Press Freedom Day, Tuna Day, cultural dialogue, #GlobalGoals awards, updates on Syria, Somalia, Mali

Iran protests: Live ammunition reportedly used, says UN human rights office

Energy: EU priority projects should be aligned with 2050 climate objectives

Report on EU trade defence – effective protection against unfair trade

COP25: Italy and Mexico pave the way on climate education

The Recruitment of Children as Soldiers Explained

Europe united in not supporting a US attack on Syria

Approaching the challenges of COVID-19 vaccination

How Japan became the world leader in floating solar power

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s