Features
8 Jan 23

The most dangerous countries for fleets

New international road safety data reveals the most dangerous countries for fleets to operate in and highlights the growing risk posed by micro-mobility solutions, such as e-bikes and scooters.

Even within Europe, the number of road deaths per billion kilometres travelled is more than five times higher in the most dangerous country, compared to the safest, indicating where fleets should prioritise driver safety investment and ensure vehicles are equipped with the latest safety technology.

The information is published by the intergovernmental organisation, the International Transport Forum at the OECD, which validates crash, casualty and road safety performance data from 34 countries* to help nations design and implement road safety strategies.

The ITF’s latest report covers data from 2021 and the first half of 2022 as economies gradually returned from Covid-19 lockdowns and traffic volumes increased.

Road deaths increase

As an average, across all 34 monitored countries, road deaths in 2021 were 0.1% higher than the average for 2017-19, although this figure is distorted by the United States, where road deaths increased by an alarming 16% in 2021. Chile (+5.2%), Israel (+5.5%), Colombia (+10.2%) and Slovenia (+15.2%) also saw an increase in road deaths in 2021, compared to the 2017-19 average.

For 29 other countries, however, road deaths in 2021 were below the 2017-19 average, with the biggest falls recorded in Denmark (-28.6%), Argentina (-27.4%) and Norway (-25.2%).

This trend continued in 14 of 20 countries that provided data for the first six months of 2022, although as a global average, road deaths were 12% lower in the first half of 2022 than the same periods of 2017-19.

Deaths per km

A more accurate measure of risk is deaths per billion vehicle kilometres travelled, which shows extremely wide variations for both 2020 and 2021. In Norway, for example, there were 1.8 road deaths per billion km travelled in 2021, compared to 9.9 road deaths in the Czech Republic. In 2020 (for which more data is available) the Czech Republic, Korea and the US all recorded more than eight road fatalities per billion kilometres driven.

Road deaths per billion kilometres driven

    2019 2020 2021
1 Norway  2.3 2.1 1.8
2 Iceland  1.5 2.1 2.3
3 Sweden  2.6 2.6 2.5
4 Germany  4 4 3.7
5 Canada  4.3 4.7 4.4
6

Australia 

4.6

4.4 4.5
7 Finland  4.2 4.6 4.6
8 France  5.3 4.8 5.2
9 Slovenia  4.5 4.5 5.9
10 Czech Republic  10.7 9.9 9.9

 

 

An alternative measure is to compare road deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, which again shows Norway to be the safest country, with 1.5 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, while Colombia had the most dangerous roads at 14.2 deaths per 100,000, followed by the US with 12.9. On this score, the four countries with the highest death rates per 100,000km were all in the Americas, with Chile and Argentina the next most dangerous respectively.

Cycling and e-bike dangers

While the long-term trend for vehicle travel shows safer roads, this is not the case for cycling. Between 2010-19 cycling fatalities increased in 15 of the 34 countries, and rose by 130% in Argentina, 90% in Israel and 60% in Ireland. E-bike riders appear to be at particularly high risk, accounting for 52% of cyclist deaths in Israel, 47% in Belgium, 41% in Switzerland and 35% in Germany, despite representing a small share of the total cycling community.

Micro-mobility risks

The risks posed by using micro-mobility travel solutions are also starting to alarm road safety experts.

“Several countries report a growing concern with the involvement of new mobility devices (including e‐scooters) in crashes,” said the ITF report.

The ITF is also very worried at the rising numbers of motorcyclists killed on the road in Chile, Argentina and Colombia, where death rates soared by 89%, 70% and 66% respectively.

Road deaths, 2021 vs 2017-19 average

  2021 2017-19 avg

Argentina 

3,870 

5,334 

Australia  1,122  1,182 
Austria  362 413
Belgium  516 619
Canada  1,768  1,852 
Chile  2,052  1,951 
Colombia  7,238  6,570 
Czech Republic  531 617
Denmark  130 182
Finland  223 229
France  2,944  3,313 
Germany  2,562  3,167 
Greece  613 706
Hungary  544 620
Iceland  9 13
Ireland  138 143
Israel  364 345
Italy  2,875  3,295 
Japan  3,205  4,172 
Korea  2,916  3,772 
Lithuania  148 183
Luxembourg  24 28
Netherlands  582 651
New Zealand  318 369
Norway  80 107
Poland  2,245  2,867 
Portugal  561 631
Serbia  521 554
Slovenia  114 99
Spain  1,533  1,797 
Sweden  201 266
Switzerland  200 217
United Kingdom  1,608  1,834 
United States  42,915  36,888 

 

 

* Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Authored by: Jonathan Manning