Traffic deaths and injuries back to pre-pandemic levels, e-scooter accidents tripled

Traffic deaths and injuries back to pre-pandemic levels, e-scooter accidents tripled
The accident in Strépy-Bracquegnies. Credit: Belga

A total of 111 people died in traffic accidents in the first three months of this year, 50% more than the same period last year; the number of injuries in accidents has also risen.

In the first quarter of 2022, 37 more people lost their lives to a traffic accident than in the first quarter of 2021, according to the latest road safety barometer from Vias Institute based on figures from the Federal Police.

"The number of deaths on our roads is almost at the same level as in 2019, the last year before the Covid-19 pandemic. There is no longer a structural improvement such as we experienced until a few years ago," a Vias statement reads.

The rise in fatal accidents could throw Belgium off its goal of zero road deaths by 2050. Brussels has set an even more ambitious target to reach the same by 2030.

The number of injuries across the country also rose by almost a quarter, from 7,871 in the first three months of 2021 to 9,698 this year.

With Covid-19 restrictions lifted and nightlife now allowed to resume, accidents that lead to injury on weeknights increased by 93% and by 157% on weekends.

Regional and vehicle differences

Accidents involving e-scooters (also called e-steps) in Belgium were already on the rise, as shown in the previous barometer, but this figure tripled (from 96 to 296) in the first quarter of this year. Cyclists are also increasingly becoming injured as a result of traffic accidents (from 1,855 last year to 2,187).

At the national level, an increase in the number of fatalities is particularly noticeable among car occupants (from 37 to 54 fatalities) and among pedestrians – 22 have died so far this year compared to six in the first quarter of last year.

However, the most dramatic rise was seen in Wallonia, where traffic fatalities doubled. This is partly due to the accident in Strépy in March which resulted in six pedestrians losing their lives and 20 people being injured.

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As a result, there was also an especially large increase in the number of pedestrian fatalities, which increased from one to 12 in the space of one year.

Both in Flanders and Brussels, the highest number of accidents involving injuries among cyclists or injured cyclists in the last ten years was recorded, while in Wallonia, the number of cyclists involved in accidents with injuries decreased by 14%.

Vias' traffic safety barometer is published quarterly. "The results of the road safety barometer of the first quarter should be viewed with caution, as they concern a short period, but they do not show a favourable evolution of road safety," the Vias statement concluded.

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