Driving in Europe is the safest it's been in over 10 years, according to a report from the independent European Transport Safety Council. Fatalities on European Union and Swiss roads fell to around 12,000 in 2012, less than half of the 28,000 deaths in 2001.

Of course, there are a number of things to thank for this – safer cars are far and away the most obvious cause, thanks to both passive and active safety systems that make it less likely to be involved in an accident and less dangerous if one actually occurs.

According to the ETSC, Spain and Latvia made the biggest improvements between 2001 and 2012, with a 66-percent reduction. Poland had the most dangerous roads, though, with 11 deaths per billion kilometers travelled. Compare that with two deaths per billion klicks in nations with better developed road networks, like Great Britain, the Netherlands and Switzerland, and it's clear the Poles have some work to do.

Despite this pretty healthy improvement, the ETSC thinks Europe can do better.

"It is simply wrong that 12,000 still die every year for reasons that are mostly avoidable," the Council's executive director, Antonio Avenoso, said in a statement.

In a further bid to reduce deaths, lawmakers are being pushed to enact stricter laws against drunk driving, with Reuters reporting that the ETSC wants to make ignition interlocks mandatory for people that have been convicted of driving under the influence. It also wants to push more strongly for seatbelt reminders, which are apparently only required for the driver.


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  • 33 Comments
      usa1
      • 7 Months Ago
      A good story. Cars are safer, more reliable, faster, and just better in every way.
      to your email L
      • 7 Months Ago
      And use of traffic circles/roundabouts probably helps. And no speed limit sections of autobahns doesn't seem a factor. Oh and an extensive public transit system helps-you don't have to drive a car necessarily to get where you are going, can take a train/bus
      Alexander Sambuco
      • 7 Months Ago
      Safer cars and roads are helping a lot around the world to reduce the road toll, there is one main factor that is no even mentioned here - Medical Advances. These stats as well only look at fatalities not number of crashes. People are surviving crashes now that wouldn't have happened a decade ago. The difference isn't as big as say 1950 to now but still would be a significant number. For this data to be properly analysed, it should factor in the number of crashes.
      kajohns1964
      • 7 Months Ago
      People actually cut in half? Gruesome!
      D210
      • 7 Months Ago
      America > Eurocrap
        Leather Bear
        • 7 Months Ago
        @D210
        @D210: No doubt spoken by a knee-jerk xenophobe who has never been there. My brief time vacationing across the pond several years ago (Great Britain mostly) found the average driver over there to be far, FAR superior to the ones we have to put up with here in 'murica. Here I see left lane bandits, lack of signals, inattention, and other bad habits at least a couple dozen times in my daily commute. Over there, not so much (in fact, almost non-existent).
          kqr
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Leather Bear
          Speaking of knee-jerk, it's a little silly to base your sweeping generalizations and name calling on your admittedly brief experience in one country several years ago. There's far more to Europe than Great Britain, and the quality of roads, drivers, and vehicles tend to vary widely around Europe. In general, the farther east and southeast you go, the quality of infrastructure tends to rapidly decrease, especially outside the large cities. Even among the more western EU nations there is a wide variation. Some of the more spectacular crashes I've seen on European public roads were in Italy, for example, but that's just anecdotal.
        Narom
        • 7 Months Ago
        @D210
        LOL
        Lachmund
        • 7 Months Ago
        @D210
        **** yeah
      Michael Scoffield
      • 7 Months Ago
      All without the need for implementing shitty autonomous cars.
      Patrick Corcoran
      • 7 Months Ago
      That's pretty astonishing, particularly given that their population is 66% larger than ours. It looks like our rate of traffic deaths using the same statistics is about 8.5, which is even higher than Germany's 5.6. We also drink less than Europe does, and I'm guessing our cars are just as safe as theirs (I know we have even more strict crash safety in some regards). A reduction like this is truly staggering. I hope they release a detailed report; I'm genuinely curious about it.
        Pete K
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Patrick Corcoran
        Yes, but their cities were built prior to the mass adoption of the automobile. It's far easier to live in EU without a car than it is in the US. I assume Americans log more miles per person than our EU friends.
        ScottT
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Patrick Corcoran
        Using deaths per capita isn't a good way of comparing them, since we drive so much more than those in Europe. In 2011 the US had 8.5 deaths per Billion Km; EU had 11.6 fatalties per Billion Km. If you go by distance driven, the US is much safer than the EU. That isn't to say that we are better drivers, but just that the US's roads are safer on average.
          CaptPugwash
          • 7 Months Ago
          @ScottT
          Not even close for multiple reasons. Counting Europe as a whole includes countries like Poland where the rate is more than 5 times the rate is in the western European nations because they don't have a good road network, the cars are older and crap compared with the typical US and Western cars. If you do a more representative comparison with the US and western Europe you will see the US has far more deaths per mile driven and for the most part that has to be because the drivers are worse here in the US. The roads here are straighter, wider and less congested as a whole than they are in Europe. The poor driver education, the failure to follow sensible practices like not texting while driving, running red lights and routine drinking and driving I see every weekend all contribute.
          Georg
          • 7 Months Ago
          @ScottT
          thats not exactly correct.... according to world wide studys the average miles driver per vehicle range from 12-15k miles/year... in the last vew years the USA see a huge drop in average miles driven...for example the 16-34yo average miles driver per year/vehicle droped (2001-2009) from 10,300 to 7,900miles ...a drop of 28% The average German drives 18,693km (insurance study from 2009) that are 11,800miles
          ScottT
          • 7 Months Ago
          @ScottT
          @CaptPug-- How am I not even close? US is safer than the EU and Swiss per mile driven. The facts back that up. Yes, that would include Poland because Poland is in fact apart of the EU. As is Italy, Slovenia, Sweden....etc. If you want to compare the US versus France, then France may come out ahead in safety. Of course, that's not what the article is about, it's about the EU plus the Swiss and as such you can't just start redefining what nations are in the EU to fit your argument.
          ScottT
          • 7 Months Ago
          @ScottT
          -@Georg Your numbers are off by quite a bit. Using 2012 stats, Americans drive about 3.8 trillion miles per year, with a population 315M, that comes out to around 12K miles per person (~20K km). Using 2011 stats (all I could find), Germans drove 636 billion miles. With a population 81M, that works out to 7.8K miles per person (~12k km). On average, Americans drive about 66% more miles annually than Germans. As for the decline in US miles, you pointed out just one age group. Overall the decline is not only no "huge" it's not even really that large. It' does exist, but is around a .4% annual drop since it peaked in 2004. And it's not just the US that is driving less per person, most of the developed western nations are seeing the same thing due to increase in gas prices and improved technology and communication.
      skoobey
      • 7 Months Ago
      OMG. I had no idea that the number of fatalities in Serbia is so high! 1500 a year die, and it's only a 7 million population.
      Vassilis Alex
      • 7 Months Ago
      That's great news but 11 years are a lot. It would be better to compare with 2011.
      Keef
      • 7 Months Ago
      It's kind of obvious that Spain improved considering nobody can afford to drive there anymore.
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