Editor's choice
9 May 19

UK roads are safest in Europe

Per million inhabitants, 96 people die on Romanian roads each month, making it the worst EU member state in terms of road safety. The UK, on the other hand, only has 28 traffic-related casualties each month.

These numbers were part of a survey conducted by VIAS Institute, the Belgian road safety institute, based on data from the European Commission.

Number of road fatalities in EU member states
Romania 96
Bulgaria 88
Latvia 78
Croatia 77
Poland 76
Greece 64
Hungary 64
Czech Republic 62
Lithuania 61
Luxembourg 60
Portugal 59
Cyprus 57
Italy 55
Belgium 52
Estonia 51
France 48
Slovakia 46
Austria 45
Slovenia 44
Finland 43
Germany 39
Spain 39
Malta 38
Sweden 32
Ireland 31
Denmark 30
UK 28

Most countries have seen their numbers improve steadily since the start of the century, though road fatalities did go up in Sweden and the Netherlands in the last five years.

Motorways

Results for motorway traffic were quite different, with Belgium coming in last with 57 road fatalities per 1,000km of motorway. Best in class in this category is Cyprus with 3.7.

Number of road fatalities per 1,000km of motorway
Belgium 57
Bulgaria 52
Italy 40
Romania 35
Czech Republic 34
Slovenia 32
Luxembourg 31
Poland 31
Germany 30
Netherlands 28
Croatia 26
UK 26
France 23
Spain 21
Denmark 20
Austria 20
Hungary 19
Switzerland 13
Portugal 12
Sweden 11
Finland 8
Ireland 6
Cyprus 4

It is unclear why the numbers for Belgium are on par with those of countries with less stringent standards in terms of road infrastructure and, perhaps, traffic rules enforcement. VIAS Institute points out that taking into account traffic density in Belgium still doesn’t explain its weak score.

Bikes

Somewhat surprisingly, bike nations Denmark and the Netherlands have a higher cyclist mortality than the European average. Per million inhabitants, 6 Dutch cyclists and 5 Danish cyclists die each month whereas the European average is 4. The higher number of cyclists in both countries probably explains the higher mortality at least partially.

Cyclist mortality per million inhabitants per month
Hungary 9
Romania 8
Belgium 8
Poland 8
Lithuania 7
Czech Republic 7
Netherlands 7
Croatia 6
Slovenia 6
Latvia 5
Austria 5
Denmark 5
Finland 5
Germany 5
Italy 4
Switzerland 4
Bulgaria 4
Portugal 3
Sweden 3
France 2
Ireland 2
Norway 2
UK 2
Greece 2
Spain 1
Estonia 1
Iceland 1
Cyprus 1
Malta 1
Luxembourg 1

Road safety policy

The VIAS Institute survey has one obvious conclusion: countries with clear, well-balanced road safety policies that invest in road infrastructure and that have a high risk of catching bad drivers, do much better than countries that don’t. 

Nevertheless, other factors come into play, like alcohol and drug use and drink driving, which is remarkably common in various countries across the continent.

Authored by: Benjamin Uyttebroeck