EC: Bulgaria’s road death rate fell 26% in 2020 y/y

Bulgaria’s road death rate in 2020 was 26 per cent lower than in 2019, with the country moving from the second-highest to the third-highest rate in the European Union, according to preliminary figures published by the European Commission on April 20.

In 2020, Bulgaria was in third place behind Romania, where the road death rate decreased by 12 per cent to 85 per million inhabitants, and Latvia, where the road death rate increased by seven per cent to 74 per million.

Bulgaria’s road death rate in 2020 was 67 per million inhabitants, compared with 90 in 2019 and 105 in 2010.

Compared with 2010, Bulgaria’s road death rate in 2020 was 40 per cent lower, according to the Commission.

The European Commission said that in 2020, the road death rate in the EU fell to an all-time low.

“Lower traffic volumes, as the result of the Covid-19 pandemic, had a clear, though unmeasurable, impact on the number of road fatalities,” the Commission said.

An estimated 18 800 people died in road accidents in the EU in 2020, an unprecedented annual fall of 17 per cent on 2019. This means almost 4000 fewer people lost their lives on EU roads in 2020 compared to 2019.

European Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said: “With almost 4000 fewer deaths on EU roads in 2020, compared to 2019, our roads remain the safest in the world.

“Still, we are behind our target for the last decade and joint action is needed to prevent a return to pre-Covid levels. In our Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, we have reiterated our commitment to implementing the EU road safety strategy and bringing down the death toll for all modes of transport close to zero,” Vălean said.

Over the previous decade between 2010 and 2020, the number of road deaths in the EU dropped by 36 per cent.

This was short of the target of 50 per cent fewer deaths that had been set for that decade. However, with 42 road deaths per 1 million inhabitants, the EU remains the continent with the safest roads in the world, the European Commission said.

As a comparison, the world average lies at more than 180.

Based on preliminary figures, 18 EU countries registered their lowest ever number of road fatalities in 2020.

EU-wide, deaths fell by an average of 17 per cent compared to 2019 though the reduction was far from uniform with the largest decreases (of 20 per cent or more) occurring in Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Hungary, Malta and Slovenia.

In contrast, five member states (Estonia, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg and Finland) recorded an increase in fatalities although the number in small countries tends to fluctuate from year to year, the Commission said.

Over a longer timeline, the number of deaths on Europe’s roads fell by 36 per cent between 2010 and 2020, below the EU target of 50 per cent.

Only Greece (54 per cent) exceeded the target followed by Croatia (44 per cent), Spain (44 per cent), Portugal (43 per cent), Italy (42 per cent) and Slovenia (42 per cent). In total, nine Member States recorded falls of 40 per cent or more.

While the unprecedented developments in 2020 led to some changes in the ranking of countries’ fatality rates, the safest roads remain in Sweden (18/million) while Romania (85/million) reported the highest rate in 2020. The EU average was 42/million, the Commission said.

Lower traffic volumes, as the result of the Covid-19 pandemic, had a clear, though unmeasurable, impact on the number of road fatalities.

“However, preliminary data in the US, for example, show that fatalities spiked in 2020 in spite of lower traffic volumes.

“Indeed, evidence in some EU countries also points to an increase in risk-taking behaviour, in particular speeding, during lockdown periods,” the Commission said.

(Photo: Gabriella Fabbri)

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