2019: Romania had highest road-fatality rate in EU

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Based on preliminary figures, Romania retains the title of having the highest amount of road fatalities, for over 2 years in a row.

In 2018, Romania and Bulgaria were the two EU member states with the highest amount of road fatalities, with higher than 80 people out of 1 million being killed on Romania’s roads, with Romania still being the highest with around 96 per 1 million inhabitants compared to 88 per million in Bulgaria.

2019’s figures suggest that this has not changed, with a familiar 96 deaths per 1 million inhabitants being recorded, compared to 89:1m in Bulgaria and 77:1m in Poland, solidifying Romania as having the most dangerous roads in the European Union, where the average amount of deaths across the Europe being 51 deaths per 1 million inhabitants.

Romania has often been criticised by other EU countries, as “not doing enough” and this is often pinned on bad infrastructure, suggests an article published by Business Review, explaining why Romania, in 2017, had the highest deaths per million in the EU, once again.

In 2019, the BBC published a podcast named “Romania’s killer roads”, and highlighted how Stefan Mandachi, a businessman and owner of familiar restaurant chain, “Spartan”, from Suceava, built a 1-meter long stretch of highway, but also contains an interview with a number of people, who suggest that Romania lacks a “safe-driving culture” and that despite rules that exist, they are not respected or enforced.

During an interview with the with Alexandru-Răzvan Cuc, who held the position of Minister of Transport twice between 2017 and 2020, said that when he entered the ministry in 2017, the ministry was a “disaster”, with no new projects launched for infrastructure, and ones that were already launched, were being blocked.

The interview then turned to focus on the road-safety statistics, Tessa Dunlop, mentioned to the minister, “a driver is more likely to die or kill someone on a Romanian road, than any other road, in the European Union”, to which he responded that, “I don’t think that we should be that dramatic”, and said that Romania is not the “black sheep” of the EU, despite having double the average EU statistics, and continued by suggesting that the main problems for these statistics are caused by speed, consumption of alcohol and drugs as well as not using the seat belt, and not just because of the roads.

During the interview, Tessa also highlighted an incident where 11 people were killed at a level-crossing in 2013, yet since then, more people were killed at the same level-crossing, with 14 being killed within just 2 years. The minister responded by saying, “there are 3 signs, it says stop, when the driver moves forwards, he goes on his own decision”. Tessa insists that most deaths could have been avoided, if an automatic barrier would have been installed.

Either way, there’s clearly a disagreement between who’s responsibility these figures should belong to, and the numbers continue to top the EU’s road fatality list, year-on-year.

An estimated 22,800 people died in road accidents last year in the European Union, which is around 2% less than in 2018, and the safest roads were listed to be in Sweden and Ireland.

“The underlying trend remains downward. Eight Member States registered their lowest fatality numbers on record in 2019: Croatia, Finland France, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Luxembourg, and Sweden. However, progress has slowed in most countries. As a result, the EU target of halving the number of road deaths between 2010 and the end of 2020 will not be met. Although it is likely there will be significantly fewer road fatalities in 2020 following the measures taken to tackle coronavirus, this will not be enough to meet the target,”, explained the European Commission, who have a target to reduce deaths and serious accidents on roads by 50% between 2021 and 2030.

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