Road accidents 

2020: a year like no other on the road

Mobility
2020: a year like no other on the road

Road accidents and casualties in 2020

In 2020 there were 30,232 road accidents with a total of 37,112 casualties. There were among them 33,645 light casualties and 2,968 serious casualties while 499 people lost their lives within 30 days after the accident. This is what emerged from the latest figures on road accidents published by Statbel, the Belgian statistical office.

The impact of the Covid-19 crisis on all road safety indicators was very large compared to 2019: fewer accidents (-19.8%), fewer casualties (-22.4%), fewer deaths within 30 days (-22.5%), fewer serious casualties (-17.7%) and light casualties (-22.8%).

Belgium 2019* 2020 2019/2020
Number of accidents 37,719 30,232 -19.8%
Number of casualties 47,832 37,112 -22.4%
Number of deaths 30 days 644 499 -22.5%
Including deaths on the spot 481 375 -22.0%
Number of serious casualties 3,605 2,968 -17.7%
Number of light casualties 43,583 33,645 -22.8%
*revised figures

The lockdown periods, followed by the relaxation of the measures, determined the rhythm: more than half fewer accidents in April 2020 compared to April 2019 (-55.5%), followed by a gradual increase between May and August, a strong increase in September and then again a sharp decrease in November (-38.4%).

The number of deaths within 30 days was also the lowest in April, when the first lockdown and traffic restrictions were in force (-53.6%).

There was a strong increase in September compared to 2019 (+59.6%): accidents mainly involved cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists and drivers of passenger cars.

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.

Survey population

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.

Périodicité

Annuel

Release calendar

Availability of results: 6 months after the reference period.

Definitions

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.

Van: van

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.

Bicyle: bicycle

Pedestrian:disabled person in a wheelchair; pedestrian with a two-wheeled vehicle; other pedestrian.

Other: agricultural tractor; trolleybus; rider; carriage; other user; unknown, unavailable.

Remarks

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.