More than 19,917 were killed in road accidents across the EU in 2021, according to the latest figures from Eurostat.
Road fatalities in the EU increased by 6% after a decade of continuous decline, the latest data reveals, with some Eastern European countries having the highest number of deaths on roads per million inhabitants.
Slightly less than 20,000 were killed on the bloc's roads in 2021 compared to 2020's figures of 18,834 – an unprecedented drop caused by COVID restrictions affecting public transport.
The latest figure marks an end to the EU's steady decline in annual deaths caused due to traffic road accidents.
The overall figures, however, indicate a substantial drop compared to 2011 when more than 28,000 lost their lives to road traffic accidents.
The main contributors to the EU's rising numbers were France, Germany, and Italy – countries with some of the most extensive road networks and more cars.
In terms of high rates, Eastern member countries Romania, Bulgaria and Latvia led the count despite reducing the number of road fatalities to slip under the 100 deaths per million threshold.
Malta had only 17 road traffic victims per million. Only Norway's figures (15 deaths per million) were better than the small Mediterranean island. Sweden and Denmark also had some of the lowest death rates, which can be explored in the map below.
The European Union revealed its plan to reform and standardize striving tests across the bloc to try and cut done on road traffic deaths in March earlier this year.
The new proposal aims to fix the legal age for taking an exam to drive at 17 years old and introduce a two-year probation period for new license holders.
The reforms, however, need to be sped up to meet the EU's goal of halving road accident fatalities by 2030, says the Brussels-based European Transport Safety Council dedicated to reducing deaths and injuries in transport.
"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," the Council adds.