Fewer people died on European roads last year, but more efforts are needed to make a big leap forward, according to new, preliminary figures on road fatalities for 2018 published by the European Commission late last week.
In 2018, there were around 25,100 fatalities in road accidents in the EU 28. This is a decrease of 21% compared to 2010, and 1% compared to 2017. For the majority of Member States, the road fatality rate was below 60 deaths per million inhabitants in 2018.
In addition to fatalities, the EU’s focus is also on the seriously injured: it is estimated that, for every road death, five more people were seriously injured on EU roads last year (around 135,000).
With an average of 49 road deaths per one million inhabitants, European roads are by far the safest in the world. But the EU says it also shows it is off track to reach a target of halving the number of road deaths by 2020. This underlines the need for swift action by Member States and the entire road safety community to deliver on the EU’s strategic road safety action plan, published in May 2018 as part of the Juncker Commission’s ‘Europe on the Move‘ package, which set out specific actions envisaged under the current Commission mandate.
The Commission has already delivered concrete measures on vehicles and infrastructure safety, and both were agreed upon by the Parliament and Council in early 2019.
For infrastructure, risk mapping will be carried out for all motorways and for primary roads, and vulnerable road-users will have to be systematically considered in all safety assessments, audits and inspections.
For vehicles, a number of safety features will be included in all new vehicles, such as Intelligent Speed Assistance to help drivers keep within the speed limit, and other proven new technologies such as Automated Emergency Braking and Lane Keeping Assistance.
The EU countries with the best road safety results in 2018 were the United Kingdom (28 deaths/million inhabitants), Denmark (30/million), Ireland (31/million), and Sweden (32/million). The countries with a higher-than-average decrease in road deaths from 2017 to 2018 were Slovenia (-13%), Lithuania (-11%), Bulgaria (-9%) and Slovakia and Cyprus (both -8%).
Only two EU Member States recorded a fatality rate higher than 80 deaths per million inhabitants, against 7 in 2010. The countries with the highest fatality rate were Romania (96/million), Bulgaria (88/million), Latvia (78/million) and Croatia (77/million).
A large number of vulnerable road users were affected: pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and the elderly, particularly in urban areas. With demographic changes and the ongoing trend towards active and sustainable mobility, these groups are expected to represent a higher proportion of road users in the future and will require particular attention.