Road fatalities in EU remained below pre-pandemic level

Last year, the number of traffic deaths in the European Union increased by 5% compared to 2020. In 2021, 19 800 people died in traffic, or 1 000 more than one year before. Still, these figures were 13% lower compared to pre-corona times. The figures were published on March 28th by the European Commission.

The European Union aims at halving the number of fatalities on the road by 2030. In the last decade, the number of fatalities in traffic has decreased by 36%, but we have to stay awake now that traffic is growing again.

Sweden is safest

“As traffic levels return to normality, we must ensure that we don’t return to pre-pandemic numbers of deaths on our roads,” Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean says. “At the EU level, we will endeavor through financing, legislation, and outreach to help deliver the ‘safe system’ of safer infrastructure, safer vehicles, safer road use, and better post-crash care. But this is a shared responsibility with the Member States, the industry, and road users. Every death and serious injury on our roads is avoidable.”

Sweden has the least fatal accidents (18 per million inhabitants), while Romania has the most (93). The European average is 44. For Belgium, the annual death toll in traffic is 43 per million citizens.

Nine member states registered the lowest number ever of road fatalities in 2021: Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, and Sweden.


Most fatal accidents (52%) occur on regional roads, 40% in urban areas, and 8% on highways. Accidents with cars involved are the most frequent, one in five traffic deaths are pedestrians, and one out of ten cyclists. Three out of four victims are men, and more than one quarter (28%) are 65+. However, young people are more likely to be involved in a fatal road collision.

“Corona has permanently changed the way we work. Some will continue to work from home and travel less,” says Antonio Avenoso, director of the European Council for Transport Safety. “But figures will increase again without persistent efforts to improve safety on the roads.”

Lower maximum speed

The general conclusion, according to the European Council for Transport Safety, is that maximum speed in the EU should go down. Furthermore, closer monitoring is necessary. “Otherwise, speed merchants will keep on ruining lives.”


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