As UNECE continues to monitor the road safety situation during the effects of COVID-19, there has been much interest in what data are available for tracking the impacts on traffic and road safety. We have decided to combine the available road accident fatality data that have been collated on the wiki into a single file, so interested policy makers can see how the road safety situation is evolving in different countries. There are very important caveats to consider with this dataset, such as:
- These data are not official statistics. In some cases the data source is an official statistics office, but in most cases the data come from provisional police data, from the Ministry of Interior or other sources.
- These data may be significantly revised in subsequent months. Relatedly, these data may not be comparable over time. Depending on the country, sometimes provisional data are subsequently revised and made final, and in other cases the provisional data are left as they are (perhaps to make more meaningful like-for-like comparisons).
- These data may not be complete. In some cases, there are geographical limits to the data, and in other cases fatality data only represent fatalities on specific parts of the network. As such, they are likely to be incompatible with historical UNECE statistics that are available at https://w3.unece.org/PXWeb2015/pxweb/en/STAT/STAT__40-TRTRANS__01-TRACCIDENTS. For example, Italy data only cover motorway fatalities, and as such only around 10% of road traffic fatalities are covered, but this is still a useful road safety marker for month-on-month changes.
- Data are sometimes only published in national languages. The UNECE secretariat has strived to find data with the correct terms, but errors may have been made.
Because of these very important caveats, users are strongly encouraged to check the metadata (when provided) using the links to each country source in the main wiki table (which can be sorted by topic e.g. road safety) before using the data for analysis. Despite these imperfections, this dataset does give insights into the very clear road safety impacts that are being observed during and post-lockdown. As set out in the last blogpost, many (but not all) countries are seeing record-level reductions in road accident fatalities, but these reductions should be considered within the environment of even-bigger reductions in road traffic. It will of course be of interest to see how these figures change as traffic levels return to their previous levels (or even increase further, given lower public transport use.)
Do you know of any official sources for road accident fatalities for missing countries? Please email us.
Figure 1: Changes in road safety fatalities, January-April 2020 versus the same time period of 2019. A positive value refers to a decrease compared to 2019.