Fewer road traffic casualties in 2021 than in 2019, mainly at the beginning of the year
There were 34,640 road traffic accidents in 2021, bringing the total of casualties to 42,566, including 38,952 slightly injured, 3,098 seriously injured and 516 persons who died within 30 days of the accident. This is what emerged from the latest figures on road traffic accidents published by Statbel, the Belgian statistical office.
Compared to 2020, there were 14.5% more road accidents in 2021, causing 14.6% more casualties and killing 3.4% more people. Given the exceptional nature of the figures for 2020, we will compare the results for 2021 with those for 2019.
The impact of the Covid-19 crisis on all the road safety indicators remained significant in 2021. Compared to 2019, there were fewer accidents (-8.2%), fewer casualties (-11.0%), fewer people who died within 30 days (-19.9%), fewer seriously injured (-14.1%) and fewer slightly injured (-10.6%).
Decrease especially at the beginning of the year
The months of January and February registered decreases of 24.3% and 28.2% of road accidents respectively compared to the same months in 2019. Only the months of June, September and October had more accidents than two years earlier.
The restrictions to limit the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic also had a positive impact on the number of road traffic casualties. While the decrease is more marked at the beginning of the year, all months, with the exception of September and November, were more favourable than those of 2019 in terms of deaths on our roads. The number of deaths was the lowest in March with 28, i.e. 48.1% fewer deaths than in March 2019.
Half as many deaths in Brussels
The number of persons who died within 30 days of an accident decreased in the three regions compared to 2019, but not uniformly:
- There were 8 fatalities in Brussels, which is 60% less than in 2019 but also half the number in 2020.
- The Walloon Region suffered 198 fatalities, i.e. 35.9% less than in 2019 and also 13.9% less than in 2020.
- In Flanders, there is a slight decrease (-1.6%) in the number of people who died within 30 days compared to 2019 but an increase of 22.5% compared to 2020.
|Number of accidents||3,928||3,224||3,534||-10.0%|
|Number of persons who died within 30 days||20||16||8||-60.0%|
|Number of seriously injured||178||159||134||-24.7%|
|Number of slightly injured||4,401||3,552||3,960||-10.0%|
|Number of accidents||23,078||18,663||21,213||-8.1%|
|Number of persons who died within 30 days||315||253||310||-1.6%|
|Number of seriously injured||2,478||2,055||2,204||-11.1%|
|Number of slightly injured||26,274||20,491||23,277||-11.4%|
|Number of accidents||10,713||8,364||9,893||-7.6%|
|Number of persons who died within 30 days||309||230||198||-35.9%|
|Number of seriously injured||949||764||760||-19.9%|
|Number of slightly injured||12,908||9,630||11,715||-9.2%|
Compared to 2019, the number of people who died within 30 days only increased in the provinces of Limburg (+15.5%) and Antwerp (+3.8%) and remained the same in West Flanders. All the other provinces saw a decrease in fatalities, with Luxembourg (-44.9%) almost halving the 2019 total.
Who are the victims of road traffic accidents?
In 2021, the majority of persons who died within 30 days were drivers (215), followed by cyclists (87), pedestrians (75) and motorcyclists (62). The sum of these 4 categories gives a total of 85% of the people who died within 30 days.
Compared to 2019, cars register a 31% decrease in the number of persons who died within 30 days (from 311 in 2019 to 215 in 2021). The decrease amounts to 18% among pedestrians (from 92 in 2019 to 75 in 2021).
Vans (+65%) and heavy goods vehicles (+36%) registered an increase in the number of fatalities compared to 2019.
|Heavy goods vehicle||11||17||15||+36.4%|
|1 passenger car; twin-purpose car; minibus; camping vehicle
2 truck, tractor + semi-trailer; tractor alone
3 less than 400 cc and more than 400 cc
4 A, B, with 3 or 4 wheels
5 Other pedestrian, person in a wheelchair, pedestrian with a two-wheeled vehicle
6 regular and electric bicycle
7 Agricultural tractor, bus, coach, rider, other user, carriage
Purpose and short description
Statbel has been compiling statistics on road accidents since 1 July 1926. These statistics are based on a form that must be completed by the police services in the event of any accident on the road claiming casualties. Over time, this form has been adapted several times according to the evolution of society and road phenomena.
Road traffic accidents with personal injury in Belgium which resulted in a police report.
Data collection method and sample size
Administrative data : on-site police records and investigation by prosecutors.
Availability of results: 6 months after the reference period.
Accident: an accident between two or more road users is considered as one accident. Only accidents on public roads and claiming casualties are included in these statistics. Are therefore excluded: collisions and accidents on private property or at sports events. Accidents with material damage only are no longer included since 1973.
Death 30 days: any person who died on the scene or within 30 days after the accident.
Serious casualty: any person injured in a road accident whose condition requires hospitalisation of more than 24 hours.
Light casualty: any person injured in a road accident who is not classified under fatal or serious casualty.
Car: passenger cars; twin-purpose cars; minibuses; camping vehicles.
Truck: truck, tractor + semi-trailers; tractor alone.
Bus: bus; coach.
Moped: moped A (two wheels), moped B (two wheels), moped with 3 or 4 wheels.
Motorcycle: motorcycle not exceeding 400 cc, motorcycle exceeding 400 cc.
Pedestrian:disabled person in a wheelchair; pedestrian with a two-wheeled vehicle; other pedestrian.
Other: agricultural tractor; trolleybus; rider; carriage; other user; unknown, unavailable.
Quality of the figures: Death data are the most reliable and stable data. Indeed, it is more than likely that a fatal accident will be the subject of police or prosecutorial intervention. Data on light casualties are most likely underestimated, especially for vulnerable road users (pedestrians and cyclists). Belgian and international studies estimate the police registration rate at 90% for fatal accidents (data from prosecutors, however, allow us to improve these results). It is around 50% for casualties requiring hospitalisation and less than 20% for very light casualties (not requiring hospitalisation).
Data from 2005 to 2017 have been revised by police services. Statbel updated its road accident data in June 2018. There is a large number of unknown data for some important variables (municipality, road conditions, and weather conditions, among others) between 2005 and 2017. It is less a problem for the most recent years. The most recent release always prevails.