According to an ETSC report made public in the month of July 2020, the COVID-19 lockdown had an impact on the reduction of road deaths overall in Europe.
In April 2020, 910 people lost their lives in road collisions in the EU25, compared to the 1415 on average during the reference period, accounting for a 36% reduction. As a term of comparison, fatalities on the road in the EU declined by just 3% between 2018 and 2019, and by 24% over the decade 2010-2019.
While these numbers can definitely be welcomed as positive, some other issues have arisen in the same timeframe, throughout the whole Europe, as it seems traffic volume has not decreased at the same level road deaths did, and speeding has increased.
The report lists the findings in the different EU countries, here is some of the data shared:
- Speed violations detected by a sample of fixed safety cameras have increased by 39% in Spain, where there has also been an increase in HGV occupant deaths
- An increase in global traffic has been experienced in Italy when lockdown measures have eased, with a greater use of private vehicles and a higher use of electric mobility
- In Hungary, police enforcement of COVID-19 regulations has led to less attention to traffic offences, with drivers taking advantages of empty roads to take more risks
- In the Netherlands, despite the pandemic containment measures led to less traffic and a lower total number of collision, but despite this, the number of road deaths registered increased by 13% in April 2020 compared to April 2017-2019 average
- In France, road travel decreased during lockdown, but speed cameras reported an increase of the most serious speeding offences (50% above the legal limit) compared with the same period of last year.
Dovilė Adminaitė, ETSC Road Safety Performance Index project manager, who led the research, commented:
“The Covid-19 lockdown has led to a huge disruption in mobility in Europe. There have been positive changes such as a rise in people walking and cycling and the installation of pop-up cycle infrastructure and lower speed limits in dense urban areas. However there will be big risks moving forward if people avoid public transport and prioritise car use in urban areas. We need to rapidly improve the infrastructure for walking and cycling in urban, but also in rural areas. If governments, cities and towns don’t adapt to this new reality, the saving of lives on the roads during lockdown could soon be reversed.”