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 challenging with increasing needs for more mobility.


A road vehicle is a vehicle running on wheels and intended for use on roads, it includes bicycles and road motor vehicles. 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.

Fatalities per million inhabitants express the mortality rate, or an overall risk of being killed in traffic for a citizen. It 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 loses its relevance if countries do not have the same level of motorisation. Fatalities per vehicle-kilometre provides a better measure of fatality risk on road networks, even if it does not take into account non-motorised vehicles such as bicycles, 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The numbers of vehicles entering the existing stock is usually accurate, but information on the numbers of vehicles withdrawn from use is less certain. Therefore it can only be used to compare safety performance between countries with similar traffic and car use characteristics. In addition it does not take into account non-motorised vehicles such as bicycles.


The first ten years of the 21st century saw record road safety performance in most countries of the International Transport Forum (ITF). Following three consecutive years of record improvements in 2008, 2009 and 2010, the number of people killed in road accidents continued to fall in 2014 recording a drop of 1.2% in OECD countries (excluding Chile and Israel). However, in 2014 one third of ITF countries reported an increase in road fatalities when compared to 2013, Russia (10.9%), the United Kingdom (4.7%), France (3.5%) and Germany (1.1%) Countries used to good road safety performance might report an increase in road fatalities; this could be explained by the difficulty in improving further an already good level of safety performance.

These overall positive developments should not hide the economic costs and human tragedies behind the data. While high-income countries look back on a record decade in reducing road fatalities, 90% of global road deaths occur in low and middle income countries and estimates put annual world road fatalities above 1.3 million, with 50 million serious injuries.


Further information

Analytical publications

Statistical publications

Methodological publications


Table. Road fatalities

Road fatalities
2014 or latest available year