The number of road deaths across the European Union increased in 2021, but did not reach pre-pandemic figures, while Croatia nearly returned to the pre-pandemic period, the European Commission reported on Monday.
“An estimated 19,800 people were killed in road crashes last year. This was an increase of 1,000 deaths or 5 percent up from 2020, but is still almost 3,000 or 13 percent down from the pre-pandemic year of 2019,” the Commission said.
In Croatia, there were 72 road fatalities per one million people in 2021, up from 58 in 2020, and almost unchanged from 73 in 2019. The EU average in 2021 was 44 road deaths per one million inhabitants, compared with 42 in 2020 and 51 in 2019. “The overall target is to halve the number of deaths by 2030. EU-wide, the last decade saw a fall of 36 percent,” the Commission said.
“As traffic levels return to normality, we must ensure that we don’t return to pre-pandemic numbers of deaths on our roads. At the EU level we will endeavour 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 Member States, the industry and road users. Every death and serious injury on our roads is avoidable,” Commissioner for Transport, Adina Valean, said.
Last year, Sweden reported the lowest fatality rate (18 deaths per one million people) and Romania the highest (93 per million).
Based on preliminary figures, nine EU countries (Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Cyprus, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, and Sweden) registered their lowest ever number of road fatalities in 2021.
“Comparing with the pre-pandemic year 2019, road deaths in 2021 fell by 13 percent, with the largest decreases of more than 20 percent reported in Denmark, Belgium, Portugal, Poland, and Lithuania. In contrast, over the last two years Latvia, Slovenia, and Finland experienced increases in the number of road fatalities,” the report said.
Slightly over half of road deaths (52 percent) occurred on rural roads, versus 40 percent in urban areas and 8 percent on motorways. Car occupants (drivers and passengers) accounted for 43 percent of all road deaths while pedestrians made up 20 percent, users of powered-two-wheelers (motorbikes and mopeds) 18 percent and cyclists 10 percent of total fatalities.
“Within urban areas, the pattern is very different with pedestrians (37 percent) accounting for the largest share of victims. With users of powered two-wheelers making up 18 percent and an increasing number of cyclists (14 percent) being killed, meaning that almost 70 percent of total fatalities in urban areas are vulnerable road users.
“Men accounted for three out of four road deaths (77 percent). The elderly, aged 65 and up, accounted for more than a quarter (28 percent) of all fatalities although proportionally more young people are killed on the roads. While 12 percent of those killed on EU roads were aged between 18 and 24, this age group represents only 7 percent of EU’s entire population. Hence, statistics show that young people are more likely to be involved in a fatal road collision,” the Commission said.