The original Sustainable Development Goal target 3.6 aimed to
halve road fatalities in the decade to 2020, but this was not met
by any region (and very few countries). With the new Decade of
Action on Road Safety (2021-2030) enshrining the resolve of the
international community to halve road deaths by 2030, where do
countries in the UNECE region stand?
UNECE collects detailed
road safety statistics for all its 56 member States, which can directly
measure progress towards this target. Here, we will explore the
different trends between countries and road users, as well as
UNECE trends compared to other regions and the solutions available.
Let’s dive in!
FATALITIES HAVE DECREASED, BUT NOT FAST ENOUGH
UNECE total fatalities have so far decreased by 15% in the period 2010-2019.
This is significant progress and means that over 72,000
people are alive who would not be if the 2010 fatality rate had stayed
Unfortunately, this was slower progress than in the decade 2000-2010
when the region saw a 25% drop in fatalities. And it is significantly
below the rate needed to halve fatalities by 2020.
That’s the trend at the regional level, but different UNECE countries
have seen very different changes in total fatalities this decade.
Let’s see which countries have improved the most over the course
of the decade.
COUNTRIES HAVE PROGRESSED DIFFERENTLY
Each bubble is a country, sized by population. Hover
over the bubbles to see each country’s change in fatalities over the
decade (vertical axis).
Since 2010, the rate of progress has varied significantly across countries
in our region. The seven best performers show the diversity of
our region, from Turkmenistan and Belarus to Norway and Greece.
Countries which are flatlining or which have seen fatalities increase should
redouble their efforts and make road safety a priority. It is also worth
highlighting the wide range of overall fatalities per million inhabitants in
the UNECE region, from 20 fatalities per million in Norway to 129 in Kazakhstan
and Georgia, over seven times higher (these data can be explored and
In addition to variable progress across countries, there are different trends in
fatalities by type of road user. Let's compare how fatalities have
evolved for vulnerable road users (pedestrians and cyclists) against
passenger car occupants (who together make up about 80% of all fatalities).
INCREASING FATALITIES FOR VULNERABLE ROAD USERS NEEDS MORE ATTENTION
Fatalities have increased for pedestrians and cyclists and
decreased for passenger car occupants (who together make
up about 80% of all fatalities).
Passenger car occupants have seen a reduction in fatalities of around
12% in countries with available data. Read more here about
how UNECE vehicle regulations have led to safer vehicles. But the increasing trend in
fatalities for pedestrians and cyclists needs more attention.
Now, let’s see what other insights are available from detailed breakdowns.
For example, knowing the age and sex of victims allows specific policy tools to be
YOUNG AND MIDDLE-AGED MEN DOMINATE ROAD FATALITIES
Males make up almost three quarters of total fatalities. There are many reasons for this,
with men driving longer distances, being more likely to drive for a profession, as
well as potentially driving in a riskier fashion, especially when young.
But gender aspects of transport safety are complex; historically car safety
has been designed around a typical male body.
We have so far looked at UNECE data only. Now let's see how they compare against the rest of the world.
WHAT IS THE GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE?
The UNECE region has a fatality rate of around half that of the rest of the world,
despite having many more cars per capita, and UNECE fatalities are declining the fastest.
WHO data show that road traffic fatalities worldwide are unfortunately steady at around
1.3 million people per annum.
SOLUTIONS ARE AVAILABLE
Why does UNECE have a better and improving safety record?
The high and middle income countries that make up the UNECE region continue
to treat road safety as a priority. By signing up to global conventions developed by
the UNECE Inland Transport Committee, countries put down in law their commitment
to drive by the rules.
Of the 736 global accessions to legal instruments relating
directly to road safety, 569 of these are by UNECE countries. This creates a safe
system approach where the five pillars of road safety (management, safe user, safe
vehicle, safe road and effective post-crash response) are all addressed.