Road deaths in Europe decrease as manufacturers add more technology

11 April 2018

11 April 2018

Preliminary road safety statistics for 2017 have shown the second year of decline in fatal accidents on roads throughout Europe as manufacturers add technology to their vehicles.

According to the European Commission, 25,300 people lost their lives on EU roads in 2017, which is 300 (2%) fewer than in 2016 and 6,200 (20%) fewer than in 2010. While this trend is encouraging, reaching the EU objective of halving road fatalities between 2010 and 2020 will now be very challenging.

In addition, it is estimated that another 135,000 people were seriously injured last year, including a large proportion of vulnerable users: pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. Beside the victims, road fatalities and injuries also affect the society as a whole, with an estimated socio-economic cost of €120 billion a year.

All this calls for fresh efforts from all actors to make European roads safer. While national and local authorities deliver most of the day-to-day actions, such as enforcement and awareness-raising, the Commission is currently working on a series of concrete measures to spur further substantial progress. This would be another step towards a ′Europe that protects’ as envisioned by President Juncker.

Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: ‘25,300 people lost their lives on our roads last year, and many more were left with life-changing injuries. Behind these figures are as many stories of grief and pain. Road safety is, of course, a responsibility shared with the Member States, but I believe that the EU can do more to better protect Europeans. The Commission is currently working on a series of concrete measures that we plan to announce in the coming weeks. The ambition is clear: saving more lives on our roads.’

With an average of 49 road fatalities per one million inhabitants, European roads remained by far the safest in the world in 2017 according to the EU Commission. Within the EU, Sweden (25 deaths per million inhabitants), the UK (27), the Netherlands (31) and Denmark (32) reported the best records in 2017. Compared to 2016, Estonia and Slovenia reported the largest drop in fatalities with respectively 32% and 20% reductions.

In addition, the performance gap between the Member States further narrowed in 2017, with only two recording a fatality rate higher than 80 deaths per million inhabitants (Romania and Bulgaria).

In the UK, Latest data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and JATO Dynamics shows that around 66.8% of new cars are offered with at least one self-activating safety system, either as standard or as an optional extra. Nearly 1.8 million new vehicles a year are now available with collision warning systems alone, up 20% on the previous year.

Thanks to these innovations and more, road accidents in the UK have fallen by nearly 10% since 2012, and are set to fall further as manufacturers continually strive to develop ever more sophisticated technology to improve safety and the driver experience. According to a 2015 report by SMMT and KPMG, connected and self-driving vehicle technology could reduce serious accidents by 25,000 and save 2,500 lives by 2030.