Report on EU road safety from Member States’ pre- and post-pandemic key data
The European Commission has today published figures on road fatalities for 2022, a year in which approximately 20,600 deaths were reported. Although a 3% increase on 2021 figures, it remains 10% lower than the pre-pandemic 2019. Targets are still in place for the EU and UN who aim to halve the number of road deaths by 2030.
Member State figures
Traffic levels have recovered following the pandemic and this is considered an influence in the rise of 2022 road deaths, although they still remain lower than 2019. Having said this, Member States are reporting contrasting figures; Poland and Lithuania recorded a decrease over 30%, and Denmark a 23% decrease. Meanwhile, reported cases from Ireland, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain and the Netherlands have been either stable or have risen, although the data is not yet fully quantified.
Sweden and Denmark represent the safest roads on which to travel, with fatality rates of 21 and 26 deaths per million respectively. In contrast, Romania and Bulgaria report 86 and 78 per million respectively, considerably more than the EU average of 46 deaths per million. This is largely unchanged from pre-pandemic levels.
Groups and locations
According to 2021 data from across the EU, 52% of road traffic fatalities occurred on rural roads, 39% in urban areas and 9% on motorways. Car passengers and drivers accounted for 45% of all road deaths, while pedestrians caught up in fatal accidents totalled 18%. Regarding two-wheeled modes of transport, motorcyclist and moped riders accounted for 19% and cyclists 9%. 78% of reported deaths were men.
Findings were very different in urban areas, however, where those classed as vulnerable road users – pedestrians, cyclists and rider of powered two-wheelers – accounted for just under 70% of road fatalities. These fatalities largely involved cars and trucks and they serve as an indication that improvement needs to be made to further safeguard vulnerable road users.
The Member States have welcomed a significant increase in cyclists on EU roads, but with it comes an increase in fatalities, perhaps owing to the lack of well-equipped infrastructure. In France, for example, preliminary 2022 cyclist road death figure show a 30% increase on 2019 statistics, a cause for concern.
In 2018, the EU set itself a target for a 50% reduction in road deaths and serious injuries by 2023. This was strategized in the Commission’s Strategic Action Plan on Road Safety and EU road safety policy framework 2021-2030 which also detailed 2050 zero road death objectives.
Road safety has been significant in recent EU mobility policy initiatives including the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, the Commission proposal for a revision of the TEN-T regulation and the Urban Mobility Framework
The EU is at the forefront of the Second Decade of Action for Road Safety, proclaimed by the UN for 2021–2030 in August 2020.
The Commission will soon present a range of proposals tackling road safety in a quest to make European roads safer still. More information can be found in the 2022 statistics report: Road safety statistics 2022 in more detail
Final data for the 2022 figures is expected to be made available in autumn 2023. The current figures for most countries are based on preliminary data. Estimates for 2022 are for the entire year and all road types, categorising deaths that occur within 30 days as inclusive. Germany and Greece (each 11 months), Belgium and Hungary (each 9 months), Spain (rural roads), Netherlands (partial data; also, police-registered fatalities are under-reported by around 10-15%), Portugal (fatalities within 24 hours), Switzerland (6 months) are the exception. There is currently no data for Liechtenstein for 2022.
Data for 2022 is compared with three other periods: 2021, 2019 (when the target of 50% fewer deaths was set) and an average number from 2017-19. The percentage changes in the table are based on the absolute number of fatalities, not the rate per million population.