Eastern European countries have the highest number of road fatalities per capita across the European Union, data reveals, but the overall number of deaths across the bloc has more than halved over the past two decades.
Slightly more than 25,000 people lost their lives on EU roads last year, according to figures from the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC). Back in 2001, more than 55,000 were killed in traffic accidents.
At the time, Baltic countries were especially dangerous with Lithuania and Latvia registering 236 and 202 deaths per million inhabitants respectively — the highest in the bloc. But 17 years on, the pair have made the best progress in the EU on cutting deaths.
The big Latvian improvement was not enough to prevent it from being one of the EU's worst last year, with 77 deaths per million inhabitants — the same as in Hungary.
Only Bulgaria (87 deaths per million inhabitants) and the EU's deadliest for road fatalities, Romania (96), are worse.
Still, despite them having the most dangerous roads, Romania and Bulgaria have also reduced the number of road deaths by 23.8% and 39.6% respectively, enough to slip under the 100 deaths per million inhabitants threshold.
In fact, over the past two years, no EU country has reached that threshold. Five were above it in 2010 and a whopping 21 were in 2001.
The UK has, since 2001, reduced the number of fatalities by half and switched place with Sweden to become the safest country in the EU. Last year, it registered 28 deaths per million inhabitants (down from 61 in 2011) while Sweden counted 32 per million inhabitants (down from 60).
Ireland and Denmark, with 30 deaths per million inhabitants, complete the top three.
The small Mediterranean island of Malta, meanwhile, is the only EU country to have seen its ratio rise by 12.5% over the 2001-2018 period. Last year, 18 people died on the road in Malta, averaging at 38 deaths per million inhabitants — the fifth safest country in the bloc.