Belgium Leads Europe in Dramatic Drop in Road Deaths

Sarhan Basem

Brussels (Brussels Morning) – Over the past five years, the number of road deaths in Belgium has fallen by 25 per cent. This puts the country ahead of almost all other European countries. Only Cyprus and Poland have made more progress.

What were Belgium’s road death statistics five years ago?

Admittedly, Belgium have come a long way. Five and ten years ago, Belgium had many more road deaths than the European average. Compared to Scandinavia and Western European countries such as the Netherlands, Spain and Germany, Belgium scored very poorly. In 2019, 56 people per million inhabitants died in traffic.

Over the past five years, Belgium has made up for this deficit. The number of road deaths has fallen by 25 per cent in five years, while the average in Europe has fallen by only 10 per cent. Only Poland and Cyprus have made more progress.

What safety measures has Belgium implemented recently?

The statistics come from the European Road Safety Council (ETSC), which collects official statistics from the European member states. “Belgium has implemented several safety measures in recent years, with a focus on the safety of vulnerable road users and on better enforcement,” the ETSC explains. “Some large cities have expanded the zones where the maximum speed is limited to 30 km per hour, sometimes even throughout the city as in Brussels. There are also more segregated cycle paths.”

How has enforcement contributed to Belgium’s road safety success?

Enforcement has also made a difference, says ETSC. “The processing of fines is now standardized and automated. There are also five thousand ANPR cameras in Belgium, and one in three Belgians will receive a speeding fine in 2023. Penalties for mobile phone use behind the wheel and recidivism have also been increased.”

“The new road safety figures confirm the trend that is emerging in Belgium: increasingly safer roads for everyone, with a significant drop in the number of road deaths,” says outgoing Minister of Mobility Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo), now chairman of the ETSC due to the Belgian EU presidency. “The progress we see today is evidence of the continued efforts that have been made.”

With a 37 per cent decrease over ten years, Belgium does not meet the target of halving it. Across Europe, more than 50,000 deaths have occurred that could have been avoided if the intended targets had been met. In 2013, Belgium was among the worst countries, after the Czech Republic, for example. Now the country is just in the first column.

In the Netherlands, there is a stagnation, says the ETSC. The country still scores better than Belgium: in 2023, there were 43 deaths per million inhabitants in Belgium, and in the Netherlands 38. “Although the evolution is positive, the work is far from done,” says Gilkinet. “We must continue to do everything we can to avoid injuries and/or deaths on our roads at all costs.” The 27 member states have set themselves the target of reducing the number of deaths and serious injuries on roads to zero by 2050. “Despite the progress made, these targets will not yet be achieved.”

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Sarhan Basem is Brussels Morning's Senior Correspondent to the European Parliament. With a Bachelor's degree in English Literature, Sarhan brings a unique blend of linguistic finesse and analytical prowess to his reporting. Specializing in foreign affairs, human rights, civil liberties, and security issues, he delves deep into the intricacies of global politics to provide insightful commentary and in-depth coverage. Beyond the world of journalism, Sarhan is an avid traveler, exploring new cultures and cuisines, and enjoys unwinding with a good book or indulging in outdoor adventures whenever possible.