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Road accidents in Europe - Statistics & Facts

Road accidents are a societal issue within the European Union and Europe in general. Road traffic accidents refer to automobile accidents, pedestrian or cycling accidents, bus fatalities and other types of incidents.

In 2016, traffic accidents were the fifth cause of death in the EU, with roughly six people out of every 100,000 dying on the roads of the European Union. In 2014, Lithuania was the European country with the highest number of road fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Poland and Greece. According to OECD figures, the number of road traffic fatalities in Lithuania decreased in the last decade; the same can be observed in almost every other European country. For example, in Germany and Italy, where the number of road fatalities decreased from over five thousand in 2007 to around three thousand in 2014.
Road accidents also include accidents among pedestrians. On a general level, the number of accidents among pedestrians is not very high and showing a trend of decrease, for example both in the United Kingdom and in the Netherlands, where the number of pedestrian road fatalities decreased from 73 in 2006 to 51 in 2016.

Taking into account the diverse causes that can lead to a car accident, one of the main causes of fatal accidents in France were sleepiness and drowsiness at the wheel. It was a different case in the United Kingdom, where accidents were mainly due to the driver not looking properly while driving. Even if not listed as a major cause of accidents, and even if the number of casualties related to drink driving has decreased significantly over the years, it is still consistently considered the key issue in terms of making roads safer in the United Kingdom. Speeding was believed to be the main cause of fatal accidents in Belgium, while inattention took the lead in the Netherlands.

It is also important to understand how citizens perceive governmental road safety measures. For example, one fourth of French individuals believed that the government did not take enough road safety measures. It is interesting, however, that at the same time France ranked second among European countries in terms of the quality of road infrastructure, meaning potential accidents and carelessness are less likely to happen as a result of the infrastructure itself.


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