Europe’s safer roads in the pandemic

Reduced traffic volumes meant that Europe’s roads became safer in the pandemic.
Highway & Network Management / May 4, 2021 1 minute Read
By MJ Woof
Europe has seen a drop in fatal road crashes in 2020 compared with 2019 – image © courtesy of Mike Woof
With the global pandemic slashing traffic volumes, Europe’s roads saw a corresponding drop in serious crashes. There was a 17% fall in road fatalities in Europe in 2020, according to recent data from the European Commission (EC). This is in marked contrast to the US, where road deaths have not dropped during the pandemic.

The data shows that there were 18,800 road deaths across the EU in 2020. Romania remained the most dangerous country in the EU to travel by road, with 85 deaths/million of population. However, this was an improvement of 12% compared with the data for 2019. In contrast, Sweden’s roads are the safest in Europe with just 18 deaths/million of population in 2020. The average rate of deaths for the EU in 2020 was 42/million of population.

The road death rate fell in 18 EU nations during 2020. The biggest falls in road crashes in the EU were recorded in Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, France, Hungary, Italy, Malta, Slovenia and Spain. These nations all saw a drop of more than 20% in their respective road death rates.

Of concern however is that during 2020, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia and Luxembourg all saw increases in their respective road death rates.

Overall, the fatal road crash rate across Europe dropped by 31% between 2010 and 2020, falling from 117/million of population to 85/million of population.