In January 2022, the European Commission added new road safety data and analytical resources to its library for European Road Safety Observatory (ERSO), with the publication of thematic reports on seat belt use, serious injuries and alcohol use. Further reports are available on: Fatigue, Level crossings, Novice drivers, Pedestrians, Personal mobility devices, Seniors, and Speed.
These reports aim to increase understanding of the causes and impacts of road crashes in order to achieve “vision zero” road deaths or serious injuries on Europe’s roads by 2050.
Some of the main findings of the reports on seat belt use, serious injuries and alcohol use are:
- Use of seatbelts and child restraint systems:
- Wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of fatal or serious injuries by around 60%. Both seat belt reminders and seat belt ignition interlocks increase seat belt use. The seat belt wearing rate in front seats is more than 95% in most EU countries, but is lower in the back seats, varying between 70-98%. An estimated 25% to 50% of fatally injured car occupants were not wearing a seatbelt. Only one third (between 20-50%) of children are correctly restrained. It is estimated that 900 deaths per year could be avoided in the EU if 99% of car occupants wear seat belts. The lowest seat-wearing rate among car drivers is in Italy at 62.7%, and the highlest rate is in France at 99.4%.
- Serious injuries through road crashes:
- Road accidents cause numerous injuries, which tend to be less-well reported than fatalities. It is estimated in the EU that for every life lost, five more people suffer serious injuries, and the number of serious injuries has generally been declining at a slower pace than fatalities.
- Driver impairment due to alcohol, drugs and medicines:
- 25% of all road deaths in the EU are alcohol related. 21% of drivers admitted driving after drinking alcohol, 15% after taking medication that affects driving ability, and 13% may have been over the legal alcohol limit. In 2022 (new vehicle types) and 2024 (all new vehicles) alcohol interlock installation facilitation will be mandatory for cars, vans, trucks, and buses. The self-reported prevalence varies between countries: Luxembourg has the highest rate 53.3% and Hungary the lowest, 5.4% (2021).
In addition, the Commission has published short “facts and figures” reports on the safety of Europe’s motorways, regional distribution of fatalities in Europe, and young people and road safety. Some of the key findings of the reports are
- Regional distribution of fatalities in Europe: The mortality rate is highest in Eastern Europe, in particular in Poland, Bulgaria and Romania, although some regions in Belgium and Portugal had a mortality rate three times higher than the European average. Male fatalities were highest in Southern Europe, and for young people and seniors, in Eastern Europe.
- Young people and road safety: In the age group 15-17 group, the absolute number of fatalities in 2010-2019 decreased by 42%. Mortality rates for this age group were the second lowest (behind the 18-24 age group) and have decreased by 39% in the past decade. In the age group 18-24, the absolute number of fatalities decreased by 42% in the same period. Whilst mortality rates for this age group were the highest, they have decreased by 35%.