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EU Urban Mobility Observatory
News article22 March 20242 min read

Road safety statistics: 2023 figures show stalling progress in reducing road fatalities in too many countries

According to the latest statistics released on road safety in the EU, around 20,400 people were killed in road crashes in the EU last year, representing a small 1% decrease compared to 2022 figures. Despite the latest figure showing improvement in reducing road fatalities since the baseline year of 2019, only a few Member States are on track to meet the EU target of reducing road fatalities by half by 2030.

Among the countries with more than 100 fatalities per year, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Hungary and Poland are projected to be on track to meet the 2030 EU target. In Spain, France and Italy, the number of road deaths has only fallen slightly since 2019, while it has risen in Ireland, Latvia, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Sweden.

In terms of road fatality rate rankings, the overall ranking hasn’t changed significantly. Sweden and Denmark are still some of the safest countries in Europe, with 22 and 27 deaths per one million inhabitants, respectively. The highest fatality rates are reported in Bulgaria (82 deaths per one million) and Romania (81 deaths per one million), compared to the 46 deaths per one million EU average.

The latest detailed fatality data categorised by age group, gender, and mode of transport has not been made available yet. Therefore, the following analysis is based on the 2022 data:

More than half of the fatalities took place on rural roads: 52% of road traffic fatalities occurred on rural roads, versus 38% in urban areas and 9% on motorways.

Car occupants are the largest group in fatalities: Car occupants (drivers and passengers) represented 45% of all fatalities, while pedestrians accounted for 18%, users of powered two-wheelers (motorbikes and mopeds) 19%, and cyclists 10%. The patterns change significantly depending on age. Among those aged 65+, pedestrians represent 29% of fatalities and cyclists 17%.

Stagnant cyclist road fatality rates: The last decade saw a significant drop in fatalities across most road users, with cyclists being the exception. The stagnant trend could be due to the persistent lack of appropriate infrastructure and unsafe behaviour of all road users such as speeding, distraction and driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Vulnerable road users represent a majority of total fatalities within urban areas: Vulnerable road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and users of powered two-wheelers, represent almost 70% of total fatalities in urban areas. These crashes occur overwhelmingly with the involvement of cars and lorries, highlighting the need to improve protection for vulnerable road users.


In 2018, the EU set itself a 50% reduction target for road deaths – and, for the first time, also serious injuries – by 2030. This was set out in the Commission's Strategic Action Plan on Road Safety and EU road safety policy framework 2021-2030, which also laid out road safety plans aiming to reach zero road deaths by 2050 (‘Vision Zero’). 

In March 2023, the Commission put forward a package of proposals tackling road safety, including updated requirements for driving licences and better cross-border enforcement of road traffic rules. 

Road safety has also been a core element of recent EU mobility policy initiatives, including the  Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, the new TEN-T Regulation and the Urban Mobility Framework. In its proposal for a European Declaration on Cycling, the Commission acknowledges that safety is a prerequisite to encourage people to cycle, and is working to prepare guidance for quality requirements regarding vulnerable road users, including cyclists.


To view the latest annual statistical report published on 4 March 2024, click here.


The original article can be found here.



Publication date
22 March 2024
  • Safety and urban mobility
  • Europe-wide