The number of road motor vehicles is high and rising among OECD countries, and reducing road accidents is a concern in all countries. The table in this section shows the numbers of road fatalities per million inhabitants and the chart combines the number of road fatalities per million inhabitants and per million vehicles.
A road motor vehicle is a vehicle running on wheels and intended for use on roads with an engine providing its sole means of propulsion and which is normally used for carrying persons or goods or for drawing, on the road, vehicles used for the carriage of persons or goods. Thus buses, coaches, freight vehicles and motor cycles are included as well as passenger motor cars. Motor vehicles running on rails are excluded.
Road fatality means any person killed immediately or dying within 30 days as a result of a road accident.
Road motor vehicles are attributed to the countries where they are registered while deaths are attributed to the countries in which they occur. As a result, ratios of fatalities to million inhabitants and of fatalities to million vehicles cannot strictly be interpreted as indicating the proportion of a country's population that is at risk of suffering a fatal road accident or the likelihood of a vehicle registered in a given country being involved in a fatal accident. In practice, however, this is not considered to be a serious problem because discrepancies between the numerators and denominators tend to cancel out.
The numbers of vehicles entering the existing stock is usually accurate but information on the numbers of vehicles withdrawn from use is less certain.
In 2007, road fatalities per million inhabitants ranged from over 235 per million inhabitants in Russia to 48 in Iceland. Over the period shown in the table, rates have decreased in all countries except in India, with particularly sharp falls in Portugal, New Zealand and France.
Road fatality rates per million inhabitants are an ambiguous indicator of road safety since the number of accidents depends to a great extent on the number of vehicles in each country. The chart shows the number of fatalities per million vehicles together with fatalities per million inhabitants. Both ratios refer to 2007. Rates per million vehicles are affected by driving habits, traffic legislation and the effectiveness of its enforcement, road design and other factors over which governments may exercise control. In 2007, fatality rates per million vehicles were less than 80 in Iceland, Switzerland and Norway, but exceeded 400 in Slovak Republic, Turkey and Russia. Note that low fatality rates per million inhabitants may be associated with very high fatality rates per million vehicles. For example, a country with a small vehicle population may show a low fatality rate per million inhabitants but a high fatality rate per vehicle.
ITF (2008), Trends in the Transport Sector 1970-2006, 2008 Edition, ITF, Paris.
ECMT (2006), Road Safety Performance: National Peer Review: Russian Federation, ECMT, Paris.
ECMT (2006), Young Drivers: The Road to Safety, ECMT, Paris.
ITF (2008), Towards Zero: Ambitious Road Safety Targets and the Safe System Approach, ITF, Paris.
ECMT (2006), ECMT Annual Report 2005, ECMT, Paris.
ECMT (2006), Speed Management, ECMT, Paris.
ECMT (2003), Statistical Report on Road Accidents, ECMT, Paris.
UNECE, ECMT, Eurostat (2003), Glossary for Transport Statistics, ECMT, Paris.
International Transport Forum, www.internationaltransportforum.org/.