Transport accident fatalities

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-87-en
Also known as: TERM 009
expired Created 07 May 2010 Published 01 Jul 2010 Last modified 04 Sep 2015, 06:59 PM
Note: new version is available!
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This content has been archived on 08 May 2015, reason: No more updates will be done
Between 1997 and 2007 the annual number of road transport fatalities fell by 29.5 % in the EU-27, and by 27.4 % in the EEA-32. However, in the EEA-32 the annual number of road transport deaths is still close to 48,000 per year (Figure 1). Over the same period, the reduction in the number of fatalities has been proportionally greater for the old EU15 member states (38 %) than in the new EU12 ones (13.6 %). In its White Paper European transport policy for 2010: time to decide the European Commission set a target  of a 50 % reduction in road transport fatalities for EU27 countries, between 2000 and 2010 (European Commission, 2001).  As this target looks unlikely to be achieved, and with further growth in transport volume predicted, stronger accident prevention policies and measures will be necessary.  The number of road transport fatalities per thousand persons decreased by around 31 % in both the EU-27 and the EEA-32 between 1997 and 2007. There are currently (in 2007) around twice as many fatalities per 1,000 persons in the new EU-12 than in the old EU-15. Rail, water and air transport remain the safest modes, in terms of number of fatalities. The annual number of rail fatalities in the EEA-32, although quite variable, has a general downward trend, and there have been fewer than 200 fatalities per year between 2000 and 2007. In 2005 and 2007 fewer than 100 people died in rail accidents in the EEA-32. Fatality statistics for water transport (maritime accidents) and air transport are methodologically different from other modes, and therefore play a minor role in this indicator.
This indicator is discontinued. No more assessments will be produced.

Key messages

Between 1997 and 2007 the annual number of road transport fatalities fell by 29.5 % in the EU-27, and by 27.4 % in the EEA-32. However, in the EEA-32 the annual number of road transport deaths is still close to 48,000 per year (Figure 1). Over the same period, the reduction in the number of fatalities has been proportionally greater for the old EU15 member states (38 %) than in the new EU12 ones (13.6 %).

In its White Paper European transport policy for 2010: time to decide the European Commission set a target  of a 50 % reduction in road transport fatalities for EU27 countries, between 2000 and 2010 (European Commission, 2001).  As this target looks unlikely to be achieved, and with further growth in transport volume predicted, stronger accident prevention policies and measures will be necessary. 

The number of road transport fatalities per thousand persons decreased by around 31 % in both the EU-27 and the EEA-32 between 1997 and 2007. There are currently (in 2007) around twice as many fatalities per 1,000 persons in the new EU-12 than in the old EU-15.

Rail, water and air transport remain the safest modes, in terms of number of fatalities. The annual number of rail fatalities in the EEA-32, although quite variable, has a general downward trend, and there have been fewer than 200 fatalities per year between 2000 and 2007. In 2005 and 2007 fewer than 100 people died in rail accidents in the EEA-32. Fatality statistics for water transport (maritime accidents) and air transport are methodologically different from other modes, and therefore play a minor role in this indicator.

Are transport accident fatalities decreasing?

Relative change in total road transport fatalities (base year 2000)

Note: The number of persons killed each year in road transport accidents expressed in relative change (base year2000)

Data source:

EC DG TREN, Statistical page http://ec.europa.eu/energy/publications/statistics/statistics_en.htm, Date of extraction: Tue, 26 May 09 03:51:32 ;

CARE - European Road Accident Database, http://ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/observatory/statistics/reports_graphics_en.htm, Date of extraction: Tue, 26 May 09 03:51:32

EU energy and transport in figures : Statistical pocketbook 2009, http://ec.europa.eu/energy/publications/statistics/statistics_en.htm, Date of extraction: Tue, 26 May 09 03:51:32

Downloads and more info

Annual road transport fatalities

Note: The annual number of road fatalities. The modes covered by this indicator are road, rail, air and sea.

Data source:

EC DG TREN, Statistical page http://ec.europa.eu/energy/publications/statistics/statistics_en.htm, Date of extraction: Tue, 26 May 09 03:51:32 ;

CARE - European Road Accident Database, http://ec.europa.eu/transport/road_safety/observatory/statistics/reports_graphics_en.htm, Date of extraction: Tue, 26 May 09 03:51:32

EU energy and transport in figures : Statistical pocketbook 2009, http://ec.europa.eu/energy/publications/statistics/statistics_en.htm, Date of extraction: Tue, 26 May 09 03:51:32

Downloads and more info

The annual number of road fatalities in the EU27 is gradually falling, despite the growth in passenger and freight traffic (see CSI035 and CSI036). This fall is attributed to improved road design, changes in legislation, the enforcement of drinking and driving law, higher vehicle safety standards, the introduction of speed limits, stricter rules on truck and bus driving hours, and reduced truck overloads (ESCAPE, 2003).
The main points to note are as follows:

  • Between 1997 and 2007 the annual number of road transport fatalities fell by 29.5 % in the EU27, and by 27.4 % in the EEA-32.
  • There are significant differences between the old EU15 member states and the new EU12 ones. Between 1998 and 2007 the reduction in the number of fatalities has been proportionally greater for the old EU15 member states (34.8 %) than in the new EU12 ones (15.8 %). This probably reflects the effects of safety improvements, which may receive more priority in the old EU-15, and the rapid increase in car ownership and traffic levels in the new EU12.
  • The level of safety is indisputably higher in Northern Europe. Safety experts often use the term "North-South Divide", referring to the traffic safety policies and plans that have significantly improved road safety in Northern Europe (ETSC, 2005). This is now complemented by a "West-East Divide", which is even greater in terms of road fatalities. The largest proportions (per thousand inhabitants) of people killed on the roads in 2007 were in Lithuanian (0.22) and Latvia (0.18), and the lowest (with the exception of Malta) was in the Netherlands (0.04).
  • Of the 18 EU  countries taking part in the CARE database countries, 51 %  of people killed on roads are car or taxi occupants (driver or passenger), and about 64 % of all road victims die outside urban areas (ERSO, 2008). Across the old EU15 area 25 % to 45 % of vehicle miles are within urban areas (LAT, 2002), which is higher than the proportion of fatal accidents (22 %), that occur on urban roads. Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are often more frequent victims inside urban areas (ERSO, 2008). In the EU19  pedestrians comprised 18 % of all road traffic victims in 2006 (ERSO, 2008), which is the second largest group of traffic fatalities in all countries. An ERSO study found that the largest number of pedestrian fatalities in 2006 occurred in Poland (1,756), Italy (710) and the UK (703) (ERSO, 2008).

Rail, air and shipping

Fewer fatalities are caused by rail, air and shipping than road transport. The main reason for this is the limited size of these sectors, but also the greater separation and control of vehicles on the networks (for rail and air), better protection for occupants (rail) and greater regulation and control over access to the network, ensuring much greater compliance with safety rules.
On average there are fewer than 200 rail fatalities a year in EEA-32 and, although there has been a degree of fluctuation in the rail fatality numbers over the last 10 years, the trend is a downwards one. In 2005 and 2007 fewer than 100 people died in rail accidents in EEA-32. Fatality statistics for water transport (maritime accidents) and air transport are methodologically different from other modes and therefore play a minor role in this indicator.

A review of recent fatality numbers is shown in the following Table1.

Table 1: Number of road, rail, air and maritime fatalities in EU27 over the last decade

Year

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Road

60 187

58 932

57 626

55 761

53 859

53 106

49 861

46 833

45 150

42 952

42 457

Rail

-

-

-

153

97

163

146

140

65

138

80

Air

157

69

106

230

274

121

14

23

273

5

7

Maritime

257

566

439

372

306

1 273

197

-

-

-

-

The numbers of air, rail and maritime fatalities have irregular patterns due to a combination of a low number of accidents and a large variation in the number of people involved in each incident.

Indicator specification and metadata

Indicator definition

The definition of the indicator is the number of persons killed each year in transport accidents by mode expressed both as absolute totals and per million of population. The modes covered by this indicator are road, rail, air and sea.

Units

The number of persons killed in traffic accidents are provided in absolute numbers.

Relative change in road fatalities (base year 2000).

Road fatalities per million: absolute number of people/1 million people.


Policy context and targets

Context description

During the last decade, a considerable effort has been made to reduce the number and severity of transport accidents, via educational programmes, limitation of permitted blood alcohol level, speed limits, technical measures such as safety belts and air bags, and traffic control measures. Harmonization of the national laws on the technical condition of vehicles was one of the Community's most remarkable achievements. It included:

  • Roadworthiness test for motor vehicles (Directive 77/143/EEC of 29 December 1976, and amendments);
  • Making the use of safety belts compulsory in vehicles of less than 3.5 tonnes (Directive 91/671/EEC of 16 December 1991);
  • Making speed limiters compulsory for vehicles of more than 3.5 tonnes, in Directive 92/6/EEC of 10 February 1992. Directive 2000/30/EC introduced the possibility of road side technical inspection of commercial vehicles.

In 1997, the European Commission launched a programme for promoting road safety in the EU (European Commission, 1997) and set out a programme for the period 1997-2001 (referred to as the second road safety programme). In September 2001, the Commission published a White Paper "European transport policy for 2010: time to decide" (European Commission, 2001), where it proposed:

  • A new road safety action programme covering the period 2002-2010 to halve the number of deaths on the roads;
  • Harmonisation of penalties, road signs and blood-alcohol levels;
  • Development of new technologies such as electronic driving licences, speed limits for cars and intelligent transport systems as part of the e-Europe programme. In this connection, progress is being made on protection of vehicle occupants, on making life safer for pedestrians and cyclists and on improving vehicle-speed management.

In June 2003, the Commission introduced a new action programme to increase the safety on European roads (European Commission, 2003). Three pillars can be recognised from this strategy to improve road safety:

  • Encouraging road users to change their behaviour in particular through greater respect of existing rules, initial and continuous training of private and professional drivers and a better enforcement against dangerous behaviour;
  • Using technical progress to make vehicles safer through improved technical safety performance standards; 
  • Encouraging the improvement of road infrastructure, in particular through the identification and diffusion of best practices and the elimination of black spots (Euro-RAP & Euro ).

To commit all stakeholders to the strategy and to obtain maximum effectiveness, the stakeholders are invited to sign the road safety charter, in which they can promise to improve progress in road safety.
The accident statistics database (CARE) was set up to evaluate the efficiency of road safety measures, determine the relevance of Community actions and facilitate the exchange of experience in this field. The database is available through the European Road Safety Observatory (ERSO) website:http://ec.europa.eu/transport/wcm/road_safety/erso/index-2.html
 

Targets

The target is set in the White Paper on "European transport policy for 2010" to halve the number of road fatalities by 2010 from 2000 year level (European Commission, 2001).

Related policy documents

  • 93/704/EC
     Decision 93/704/EC on the creation of a Community database on road accidents
  • COM (2001) 370 final. European transport policy for 2010.
    WHITE PAPER European transport policy for 2010: time to decideCOM (2001) 370 final
  • COM(97) 131
    Promoting road safety in the European Union: The Programme for 1997-2001, COM(97) 131
  • COM(2003) 311
    European road safety action programme; halving the number of road accident victims in the European Union by 2010: a shared responsibility COM(2003) 311 fin

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

Road traffic accidents

A road injury accident is an accident involving at least one road vehicle in motion on a public road or private road to which the public has right of access, resulting in at least one injured or killed person (European Commission, 2003).

  • Killed (fatalities): Any person killed immediately or dying within 30 days as a result of an injury accident. Suicide, criminal or natural death is not considered a result of a traffic accident. For countries that do not apply this definition, conversion coefficients are estimated so that comparisons on the basis of the 30 day-definition can be made (European Commission, 2003).
  • Injured: Any person not killed, but who sustained an injury as result of an injury accident, normally needing medical treatment. 

Rail accidents

Three types of victims are generally considered in rail accidents: passengers, employees and others.
Both statistics on road traffic accidents and statistics on rail traffic accidents will, according to the definitions, include accidents at level crossings between roads and railways. In order to avoid double counting comparing road and rail accidents, accidents at level crossings should be reported separately.
A railway operating accident is an accident occurring on main lines or service tracks operated by the railway, associated with railway stock movements on open tracks or on station premises and resulting in death of a person or a serious injury, or in extensive damage to stock, track or other installations, or extensive disruptions to traffic. Accidents in workshops, warehouses and depots are excluded as well as suicides (UNECE, 2009).
Rail accidents and casualties (UNECE, 2009):

  • Accident: an accident in which at least one moving rail vehicle is involved. There are the following categories of accidents: collisions, derailments, level crossing accidents, and accidents to persons caused by rolling stock in motion, fires in rolling stock and others.
  • Injury accident: Any accident involving at least one rail vehicle in motion, resulting in at least one killed or injured person. Accidents in workshops, warehouses and depts. Are excluded.
  • Persons killed (fatality): Any person killed immediately or dying within 30 days as a result of an accident. It includes passengers, employees and other specified or unspecified persons involved in a rail injury accident.
  • Person injured: person seriously injured is any person injured who was hospitalised for more than 24 hours as a result of an accident; person slightly injured is any person injured excluding persons killed or seriously injured. Persons with lesser wounds, such as minor cuts and bruises are not normally recorded as injured.

Aviation accidents

Aviation accidents and casualties (UNECE, 2009):

  • An injury resulting in death within thirty days of the date of the accident is classified as a fatal injury
  • Accident on national territory: An accident on the national territory of a state                                 
  • An accident on a nationally registered aircraft: An accident involving an aircraft on the national aircraft register of a state

Methodology for gap filling

 N/A

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

In general, data on road fatalities from the policy statistical records are reliable, but concerns have been raised in earlier years that the total number of persons injured in road traffic accidents are underreported and that the records from the health sector (casualty departments) are more realistic. Furthermore, there is no agreed methodology for reporting road and rail injuries and hence datasets are not comparable across Member States.  Definitions such as severe casualties may vary among the European countries. This uncertainty is one of the reasons for reporting only on fatalities and injury accidents. 

Data sets uncertainty

Road data can be considered as reliable, accurate and robust. Data for other modes is sufficiently available.

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Data sources

Generic metadata

Topics:

Transport Transport (Primary topic)

Tags:
transport indicators | transport
DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • TERM 009
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
1993-2007
Geographic coverage:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Cinzia Pastorello

EEA Management Plan

2009 2.10.2 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Frequency of updates

This indicator is discontinued. No more assessments will be produced.
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100