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Road fatalities among the 32 member countries of the International Road Traffic and Accident Database (IRTAD) fell a remarkable 42.0 per cent between 2000 and 2013, latest figures show.

But Australia’s reduction — a still commendable 35.0 per cent over the 14-year period — was fourth-lowest among the IRTAD Group, higher only than Canada, the US and Chile.

Figures showed a 4.3 per cent reduction among member countries (a full list of all members is provided below) between 2013 and 2012 alone.

The long-range data shows that the IRTAD country most successful in reducing its road toll over the 14-year period between 2000 and 2014 was Spain, with drop of more than 70.0 per cent, closely followed by Portugal.

Denmark, Slovenia, France and Lithuania all reduced their tolls by around 60.0 per cent, while Greece, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, Austria, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands, Hungary, Belgium, the UK and Japan all recorded declines of more than 50.0 per cent.

Crucially, no IRTAD member went backwards, with the least-successful performer Chile still cutting its toll by about 5.0 per cent. The second-worst performer, the US, cut its toll by more than 20.0 per cent.

Fascinatingly, IRTAD postulated that the Global Financial Crisis played a role, presumably given its impact on car sales in most member countries, and fewer commuters heading to and from work.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 11.06.40 am

Image above sourced from IRTAD report.

“The economic downturn which started hitting most IRTAD countries since 2008 has had a substantial impact in the reduction of fatalities. Modelling work by the ITF shows that it contributed to two-thirds of the reduction between 2008 and 2010,” the report said.

IRTAD also found that the reduction in road deaths between 2000 and 2014 was down in greatest degree to the reduction in fatalities among car occupants than any other form of transport — potentially a result of the growing emphasis on vehicle safety, as enforced by government regulation and watchdogs such as NCAP.

“Although substantial overall fatality reductions have been achieved since the year 2000, the pace of improvement for vulnerable road users is lower than for car occupants,” the IRTAD study stated.

“While fatalities among car occupants were reduced by 54.0 per cent between 2000 and 2013, decreases were only 36.0 per cent for pedestrians, 35.0 per cent for cyclists and 22.0 per cent for motorcyclists.

“As a consequence in many countries, road safety priorities have recently shifted from motorised rural traffic to vulnerable road users in urban areas.”

IRTAD also published largely provisional figures for 2014. Australia’s road toll last year of 1156 was 2.6 per cent lower than the 2013 data. As we have reported, this was the lowest level in almost 70 years.

The 2014 provisional data shows that 15 of the 28 IRTAD member countries for which figures are available managed to reduce the number of road deaths, while eight countries saw an increase.


Pictured: ITF panel, with Australia's Andrew McKellar, secretary general for Automobile Mobility and Tourism at Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), pictured left.

The figures were revealed at the 2015 International Transport Forum in Leipzig this week, alongside stats outlining the individual fatality rates of each IRTAD member country.

Sweden and the UK recorded the lowest number of road deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in 2013 — the most recent figures available — at 2.7 and 2.8 respectively, while Argentina was the worst with a rate of 12.3. Australia’s the was on the median at 5.0.

Read more about those figures on our separate story here, and see the full figures below.

It is worth noting that the IRTAD Group’s current members account for only 6.0 per cent of global road fatalities, with notable nations such as China and India not participating.

“It is our intention to pursue our geographical expansion and to assist countries interested in building up and improving their road safety data system,” said IRTAD-Group chair Fred Wegman.

IRTAD also made clear that the “encouraging results” between 2000 and 2013 should not hide the fact that every year 1.3 million people are killed and tens of millions are injured, 90 per cent of them in low and middle income countries.

Road deaths per 100,000 people (IRTAD figures):

  1. Sweden 2.7
  2. United Kingdom 2.8
  3. Switzerland 3.3
  4. Netherlands 3.4
  5. Denmark 3.4
  6. Israel 3.4
  7. Spain 3.6
  8. Norway 3.7
  9. Japan 4
  10. Ireland 4.1
  11. Germany 4.1
  12. Iceland 4.7
  13. Finland 4.8
  14. France 5.1
  15. Australia 5.1
  16. Austria 5.4
  17. Canada 5.5
  18. New Zealand 5.7
  19. Italy 5.7
  20. Hungary 6
  21. Portugal 6.1
  22. Slovenia 6.1
  23. Czech Republic 6.2
  24. Belgium 6.5
  25. Greece 7.9
  26. Luxembourg 8.4
  27. Lithuania 8.7
  28. Poland 8.7
  29. Korea 10.1
  30. USA 10.3
  31. Chile 12
  32. Argentina 12.3