Compared to previous years, fewer people lost their lives on EU roads in 2019, according to preliminary figures published today by the European Commission. An estimated 22 800 people died in a road crash last year, almost 7 000 fewer fatalities than in 2010 – a decrease of 23%. Compared with 2018, the number fell by 2%. With an average of 51 road deaths per 1 million inhabitants, Europe remains by far the safest region in the world when it comes to road safety.
Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said: “No deaths and serious injuries on European roads by 2050. This is our goal. We aim at 50% fewer deaths, and 50% fewer serious injuries by 2030, and we know our target is achievable. The EU has seen a substantial decrease in road fatalities in the past, but stagnating figures in recent years. In addition, disparities among countries remain huge. We will reach our goal only through a combination of legislative measures, adequate funding, standards for vehicles and infrastructure, digitalization, and best practices exchange.”
The underlying trend remains downward. Eight Member States registered their lowest fatality numbers on record in 2019: Croatia, Finland France, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Luxembourg and Sweden. However,progress has slowed in most countries. As a result, the EU target of halving the number of road deaths between 2010 and the end of 2020 will not be met. Although it is likely there will be significantly less road fatalities in 2020 following the measures taken to tackle coronavirus, this will not be enough to meet the target.
While Member States’ performance in road safety is converging, there are still four times more road deaths in the worst-performing country than in the best. The safest roads were in Sweden (22 deaths/million inhabitants) and Ireland (29/million), while Romania (96/million), Bulgaria (89/million) and Poland (77/million) reported the highest fatality rates in 2019. The EU average was 51 deaths per million inhabitants.
Some countries have made enormous progress: Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, the three Baltic countries (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) and Croatia recorded higher-than-average reductions (between 30 and 40%) of road fatalities.
For the next decade, the EU has set in the EU road safety policy framework 2021-2030 a new 50% reduction target for deaths and, for the first time, also for serious injuries by 2030. The Stockholm Declaration of February 2020 paves the way for further global political commitment for the next decade.
It is estimated that, for every life lost, five more people suffer serious injuries with life-changing consequences (around 120 000 people in 2019). The external cost of road crashes has been estimated to be around 280 billion euros, or around 2% of EU GDP.
To reach “Vision Zero” the Commission is implementing the Safe System in the EU. This Safe System requires safer vehicles, safer infrastructure, better use of protective equipment, lower speeds and better post-crash care. In addition, the EU will work toensure better cross-border enforcement of traffic offences, digitalise driving licences and develop new ways to help Member States with comparatively poor road safety records.
Road deaths per million inhabitants – preliminary data for 2019*
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* The 2019 figures are based on provisional data for some countries and may be subject to minor changes when the final data are released in autumn 2020. The percentage changes in the table are based on the absolute number of fatalities, not the rate per million inhabitants. Unless otherwise stated, all EU aggregate figures reflect the situation in the EU without the United Kingdom. While this inevitably leads to a smaller number of fatalities in the Union, the EU rate per million inhabitants has increased due to the UK’s comparatively good road safety record.