OECD Factbook 2011-2012: Economic, Environmental and Social Statistics
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branch Energy and transportation
branch Transport
    branch Road fatalities

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 vehicles.

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The numbers of vehicles entering the existing stock is usually accurate, but information on the numbers of vehicles withdrawn from use is less certain.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 Estonia.

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.



Further information
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Indicator in PDF Acrobat PDF page

Road fatalities
    Table in Excel

Road fatalities Figure in Excel
Road fatalities
Road fatalities Figure in Excel
Road fatalities