Overhauling Europe's driving tests: Which countries have the most road deaths?

FILE: Crosses next to A5 autobahn near Karlsruhe mark the site of a fatal car crash, July 14, 2003
FILE: Crosses next to A5 autobahn near Karlsruhe mark the site of a fatal car crash, July 14, 2003 Copyright AP Photo
By Sudesh Baniya
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The EU is firming up plans to overhaul driving tests to try and reduce road traffic deaths, but which countries have the highest and lowest number of fatalities?


The European Union is firming up plans to reform and standardise driving tests across its 27 Member States, to try and cut down on the 20,000 road traffic deaths every year -- with 40% of those fatalities involving drivers under the age of 30. 

The new proposals would fix the legal age for taking an exam to drive at 17 years old and new licence holders would have a two-year probation period, during which time they would not be able to drive alone, and be completely banned from drinking any alcohol while driving. 

So what is the overall situation regarding road accident deaths in the European Union? According to the latest data from Eurostat, in the last decade there has been a decline in the number of fatalities on the EU's roads in every country, as well as the EU average. 

The biggest countries like France, Germany and Italy -- with some of the most extensive road networks and most cars -- are still showing high numbers of fatalities but they have dropped quite substantially from 2011 to 2020.

The first chart shows the big picture across all EU countries, but if you click right you can get a country-by-country comparison which makes it clear that in many smaller states the number of fatalities was already very low, and has continued to fall in the past decade. 

The European Transport Safety Council, a Brussels-based independent non-profit organisation dedicated to reducing the numbers of deaths and injuries in transport in Europe, says the number of road traffic deaths still needs to fall faster. 

"New figures released last week showed that road deaths in the EU are not decreasing fast enough to hit the crucial target of halving deaths and serious injuries by 2030," says Graziella Jost from the European Transport Safety Council. 

"It’s good to see the EU getting serious about road safety today," she adds. 

The new EU proposals would also give countries the powers to enforce driving bans from one EU Member State across the whole bloc. 

"It’s now up to Member States and the European Parliament to ensure this package doesn’t get watered down on the often treacherous road to becoming law," says Jost.

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