Over the past year, road accidents in the European Union have claimed the lives of about 18,800 people. That meant a decrease of 17 percent compared to the previous year. In Belgium this is even a decrease of 22 percent. This is evident from a report by the European Commission, which recognizes a clear impact of the outbreak of the corona crisis in the figures.
With these results, the European Union has become the best region in the world in terms of traffic, according to the report.
‘In the past year, four thousand fewer deaths occurred in European traffic than the year before’, according to the European Union. ‘Never before in history has a 17 percent reduction in the number of road casualties been recorded.’
However, Adina Vălean, European Commissioner for Transport, stresses that European road safety has fallen behind the goals set last decade. Extra efforts should be made to avoid a return to a higher death toll, as was the case before the corona pandemic outbreak, she said.
Over the past decade, the number of road deaths in the European Union has decreased by 36 percent. The intention was a reduction of 50 percent. “However, with 42 road fatalities per million inhabitants, the European Union still remains the safest region compared to the global average, where there is a figure of 180 fatalities per million inhabitants.”
In eighteen Member States of the European Union, the number of road deaths has fallen to the lowest point in history in the past year. “However, that decrease is far from uniform,” said the report. “The largest reductions – by 20 percent or more – were recorded in Belgium (-22 percent), Bulgaria, Denmark, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Hungary, Malta and Slovenia.”
In contrast, five countries – Estonia, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg and Finland – registered an increase in road deaths. It should be noted, however, that in the smaller countries the figures often fluctuate from year to year. ‘
In the past decade, Greece has been the only Member State of the European Union to achieve the road safety targets. After all, over a period of ten years, the country was able to reduce the death toll in its traffic by 54 percent. Croatia and Spain (44 percent), Portugal (43 percent) and Italy and Slovenia (42 percent) followed.
In total, nine states saw their death toll drop by 40 percent. Although last year’s developments led to a number of changes in the ranking, Sweden – with barely eighteen deaths per million inhabitants – remains the best member of the European Union in terms of road safety. At the other end of the spectrum is Romania with 85 victims.
The European Commission sees a clear impact of the corona pandemic behind the figures. “But some countries also point to an increase in risky behavior, especially with speeding tickets, during lockdown periods,” the report said.
‘There is also a growing popularity of cycling, which has led to a redistribution of space on the road, where cyclists and pedestrians are given more space. However, this also creates a number of new road safety challenges. ‘
In urban regions, vulnerable road users – pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists – account for about 70 percent of road deaths.