Higher incidence of road fatalities in EU rural areas


In 2020, there were 19102 road fatalities, equivalent to 43 road fatalities per million inhabitants in the EU, and no less than 935 555 injuries on EU’s roads (excluding Ireland). Data shows that 112 out of 239 NUTS level 2 regions recorded an incidence of road fatalities that was below the EU average, while 123 (or 51.5% of all regions) had a value that was above; there were four regions that had the same number of road fatalities per million inhabitants as the EU average.

Some of the highest incidence rates for road fatalities in 2020 were recorded in rural regions, with the highest incidence rates being mostly located in Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, outermost regions of France, Poland and Romania. By contrast, urban regions tended to report a much lower incidence of road fatalities. This may be linked to lower average speeds: for example, there may be lower speed limits in built-up areas while motorway networks in and around major conurbations may be frequently congested.

It should be noted that road accident statistics include fatalities and injuries in vehicles which are in transit through a region as well as fatalities and injuries of non-residents staying in a region on holiday, for business or other reason. As such, regions that have transit corridors or regions with high numbers of visitors may well experience a higher incidence of injuries and fatalities.

Five regions reported more than 100 road fatalities per million inhabitants

Looking in more detail, there were five NUTS level 2 regions with at least 100 road fatalities per million inhabitants. In 2020, the highest incidence was recorded in the southern Portuguese region of Alentejo (135 road fatalities per million inhabitants). The other four regions included: two outermost regions of France – Guadeloupe (124) and Guyane (115); Mazowiecki regionalny that encircles the Polish capital region (123); and the southern Belgian region of Prov. Luxembourg (100).

There were 24 regions across the EU where the incidence of road fatalities was less than 23 deaths per million inhabitants in 2020. There were two regions that reported no road deaths at all: Valle d’Aosta/ Vallée d’Aoste in northern Italy and the, relatively small, island region of Åland in Finland. However, a majority of the 24 regions with relatively low fatality rates were predominantly urban areas, including 10 capital regions. Leaving aside the two regions without fatalities in 2020, the next lowest incidence rates were recorded in the Swedish capital region of Stockholm (5 road fatalities per million inhabitants), the Austrian capital region of Wien (6), and the northern German region of Hamburg (8).

Would you like to know more about transport statistics in the EU? 

You can read more in the Regions in Europe – 2022 interactive edition and in the Eurostat regional yearbook – 2022 edition, also available as a set of Statistics Explained articles. The corresponding maps in the Statistical Atlas provide a full-screen interactive map experience.

For more information:

Methodological notes:

  • Croatia: national data.