According to preliminary figures released by the European Commission, almost 4,000 fewer people died in road accidents in EU countries in 2020 than in 2019.
Experts estimate that 18,800 people died in road traffic crashes last year, an unprecedented 17% annual reduction from 2019. The decrease in traffic due to the pandemic (strict quarantine measures) has contributed to the improvement of the road situation.
During the decade 2010-2020, the number of road traffic deaths in the EU fell by 36%, less than the target of 50% reduction. Only Greece (54% decline) exceeded the target, followed by Croatia (44%), Spain (44%), Portugal (43%), Italy (42%) and Slovenia (42%). Overall, nine Member States recorded a decline of more than 40%.
Greece in 2010 recorded 113 road deaths per million inhabitants (most in the EU), but in 2019 the figure dropped to 64 per million, and in 2020 even more – to 54 deaths per million. The decrease in road deaths in our country was 16% in the period from 2019 to 2020 and 54% in the period from 2010 to 2020.
Traffic accidents: the safest roads are still in Sweden
Overall, there were 42 road deaths per million people in the EU last year, up from 51 in 2019 and 67 in 2010. According to experts, Europe remains the safest continent in the world, exceeding the global average (180 deaths).
The decline in deaths on EU roads has not been uniform over the past year. The largest reductions (20% or more) occurred 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 road traffic deaths.
The safest roads are still in Sweden (18 deaths per million inhabitants in 2020), and Romania has the worst situation (85 deaths per million inhabitants) in 2020.
It was noted that due to Covid-19, the use of bicycles has increased significantly. This encouraging development could have a positive impact on air quality and climate change, while creating new road safety challenges. In the EU, about 70% of road traffic deaths in urban areas involve vulnerable road users, including pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists.