For the fourth consecutive year, Bulgaria had the second-highest road fatality rate in the European Union, according to figures for 2021 published by the European Commission (EC) on March 28.
Bulgaria’s road fatality rate in 2021 was 81 per million inhabitants, second to Romania at 93 per million inhabitants.
In 2019, Bulgaria’s road fatality rate was 90/million, dropping to 67/million in 2020 (influenced in part by temporary intercity travel restrictions because of the Covid-19 pandemic).
Compared with 2019, Bulgaria’s road fatality rate in 2021 was down by 11 per cent, while compared with the average for 2017-2019, it was down by 12 per cent.
The EC said that the percentage changes were based on the absolute number of fatalities, not the rate per million inhabitants.
Before 2017, Bulgaria had the highest road fatality rate in the EU, which it joined at the beginning of 2007.
The EC said that in the EU, an estimated 19 800 people were killed in road crashes last year.
This was an increase of 1000 deaths (five per cent) on 2020, but still represented almost 3000 ( a decrease of 13 per cent) fewer fatalities compared to the pre-pandemic period in 2019.
The overall target is to halve the number of deaths by 2030, the EC said. EU-wide, the last decade saw a fall of 36 per cent.
EU-wide, road deaths in 2021 rose by five per cent on the previous year, although comparisons with 2020 are strongly influenced by the traffic level patterns in each country during the course of the pandemic, the EC said.
Between 2019 and 2020, the number of road fatalities fell by 17 per cent.
The overall ranking of countries’ fatality rates has not changed significantly with the safest roads being found in Sweden (18 deaths per one million inhabitants) while Romania (93/million) reported the highest rate in 2021.
The EU average was 44 road deaths per million inhabitants.
Based on preliminary figures, nine EU countries (Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Cyprus, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal and Sweden) registered their lowest ever number of road fatalities in 2021, the EC said.
Comparing with the pre-pandemic year 2019, road deaths in 2021 fell by 13 per cent, with the largest decreases of more than 20 per cent occurring in Denmark, Belgium, Portugal, Poland and Lithuania.
In contrast, over the past two years Latvia, Slovenia and Finland experienced increases in the number of road fatalities.
Overall, 52 per cent of road traffic fatalities occurred on rural roads, versus 40 per cent in urban areas and eight per cent on motorways.
Car occupants (drivers and passengers) accounted for 43 per cent of all road deaths while pedestrians made up 20 per cent, users of powered-two-wheelers (motorbikes and mopeds) 18 per cent and cyclists 10 per cent of total fatalities.
Within urban areas, the pattern is very different with pedestrians (37 per cent) accounting for the largest share of victims.
With users of powered two-wheelers making up 18 per cent and an increasing number of cyclists (14 per cent) being killed, meaning that almost 70 per cent of total fatalities in urban areas are vulnerable road users, the EC said.
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