Fewer traffic deaths and accidents in Belgium thanks to Covid-19

Last year, there were 42 566 traffic victims in Belgium. Most of them were lightly injured. However, 3 908 people were seriously injured and 516 people died within thirty days of the accident. This is a decrease compared to previous years.

These figures come from the Belgian statistics office Statbel. In addition, 34 640 road accidents took place, or 8,2% fewer than in 2019, the last ‘normal’ year pre-corona. But with 34 640 road accidents, Belgium still has an average of just under 95 traffic accidents per day.

95 traffic accidents per day

The number of traffic victims in Belgium has been on the decline in recent years, with the single exception of 644 fatalities in 2019. In 2020, during the corona crisis, the number of traffic accidents also dropped to 30 251, which is particularly low compared to previous years. With 34 640 road accidents in 2021, Belgium still has an average of just under 95 traffic accidents per day.

But even in 2021, the restrictive measures clearly had a positive effect. For example, for all months except September and November, the number of traffic fatalities was lower than in 2019. Motorists (215) in particular were killed, followed by cyclists (87), pedestrians (75), and motorcyclists (62).

What is further noteworthy is that the number of traffic fatalities among vans and trucks has increased.

More traffic deaths in Wallonia, more cycling casualties in Flanders

According to the latest statistics provided by Statbel, Walloon roads are also proportionally the deadliest in Belgium. The south of the country suffered 310 deaths on its roads, compared to 198 in the north. For Flanders, you thus arrive at 46, 27 fatalities per million inhabitants, compared to 54,06 in Wallonia – the EU average is 44 road deaths per million inhabitants.

Several factors can explain this difference, writes the newspaper La Libre Belgique, although there is a slight decrease (-1.6%) in the number of people who died within 30 days compared to 2019 but an increase of 22,5% compared to 2020.

Flanders, with a population density almost twice as high as Wallonia, has become something of a large conurbation. “There are fewer major roads that are conducive to speeding, which is generally more addict-prone,” confirms Benoît Godart, spokesperson for Vias, the road safety institute.

This difference is also reflected in the legislation on speed. Flanders, which also has a greater number of speed cameras, has opted for a maximum speed of 70 km/hour on most roads outside built-up areas, whereas Wallonia has retained the 90 km/hour limit. The impact can be measured in concrete terms: in Wallonia, 20% of accidents take place outside built-up areas, compared to 4% in Flanders,” analyses Belinda Demattia, spokesperson for the Walloon Road Safety Agency.

Also striking: last year there were almost 9 000 accidents involving bicycles in Flanders (with 76 fatalities), compared with just under 1 000 in Wallonia (with 10 fatalities). This increase is largely due to the proliferation of faster e-bikes, writes the newspaper.

Brussels scores well

In the Brussels region, the figures also continue to drop. The number of fatal accidents in Brussels even reached a historically low level in 2021. Last year, there were 8 accidents with a death, compared to 14 in 2020, 19 in 2021, 21 in 2018, and 24 in 2017. The number of accidents with serious injuries is also the lowest in the last seven years: 128 incidents in 2021.

Last week, at the Velo-city conference in Ljubljana, the largest cycling conference in the world, the Brussels Region was presented with the road safety award by the European Cyclists’ Federation. This award rewards ambitious plans that significantly improve the road safety of active road users.

On the other hand, the number of accidents in Brussels, 3 534 in 2021, is up by 10% compared to the previous year, but here the pandemic and its travel restrictions certainly have played a role.


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