The number of road motor vehicles is high amongst
member countries of the International Transport Forum and reducing road accidents is a
concern for all governments. Such concern becomes more of challenging with increasing
needs for more mobility.
A road motor vehicle is a road vehicle fitted with an
engine whence it derives its sole means of propulsion, and which is normally used for
carrying persons or goods or for drawing, on the road, vehicles used for the carriage
of persons or goods. They include buses, coaches, trolley buses, goods road vehicles
and passenger road motor vehicles. Although tramways (street-cars) are rail borne
vehicles they are integrated into the urban road network and considered as road motor
Road fatality means any person killed immediately or
dying within 30 days as a result of a road injury accident. Suicides involving the use
of a road motor vehicle are excluded.
Road motor vehicles are attributed to the countries
where they are registered while deaths are attributed to the countries in which they
occur. As a result, ratios of fatalities to million inhabitants and of fatalities to
million vehicles cannot strictly be interpreted as indicating the proportion of a
country's population that is at risk of suffering a fatal road accident or the
likelihood of a vehicle registered in a given country being involved in a fatal
accident. In practice, however, this is not a serious problem because discrepancies
between the numerators and denominators tend to cancel out.
Fatalities per million inhabitants can be compared
with other causes of death in a country (heart diseases, cancer, HIV, etc.) however
when comparing countries road fatality risks, this indicator looses it relevance if
countries do not have the same level of motorisation. Fatalities per billion
vehicle-kilometre provides a better measure of fatality risk on road networks, but
there is currently no harmonisation in the methodology to calculate distances
travelled, and not all countries collect this indicator.
The numbers of vehicles entering the existing stock
is usually accurate, but information on the numbers of vehicles withdrawn from use is
less certain. The table in this section shows the numbers of road fatalities per
million inhabitants. The chart shows the number of road fatalities per million
inhabitants and per million vehicles.
In 2009, the number of road fatalities fell by
almost 10%, following the trend set in 2008 with a drop of nearly 9%. This
performance represents the two biggest annual improvements since 1990. In 2009 the
number of road fatalities per million inhabitants ranged from 184 per million
inhabitants in the Russian Federation to 38 in the United Kingdom. Over the period
shown in the table, road fatalities rates have decreased in most countries, with a
particularly sharp fall in the Slovak Republic and drops of 25% in Denmark and
Road fatality rates per million inhabitants are
only a partial indicator of road safety since the number of accidents depends to a
great extent on the number of vehicles in each country. The chart shows the number
of fatalities per million vehicle together with fatalities per million
inhabitants. Both ratios refer to 2009. Road fatality rates per million vehicles
are affected by driving habits, traffic legislation and enforcement effectiveness,
road design and other factors over which governments may exercise control. In
2009, fatality rates per million vehicles were less than 70 in Sweden,
Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and the United Kingdom but exceeded 500 in Turkey and
the Russian Federation. Note that low fatality rates per million inhabitants may
be associated with very high fatality rates per million vehicles. For example, a
country with a small vehicle population (e.g.
Turkey) may show a low fatality rate per million inhabitants but a high fatality
rate per million vehicles.