Belgium among Europe's lowest ranking for road safety

Belgium among Europe's lowest ranking for road safety

Belgium is one of Europe's worst countries in terms of road safety, according to the latest Vias Institute report. In the newest ranking, it falls back to 23rd place, out of 30 countries analyzed. The death toll per 1,000 kilometres for Belgium is 58, which is more than double the European average of 25. High speed, alcohol and drugs are the major causes, according to the Vias Institute for Traffic Safety's report.

"Our country is doing worse than most of the neighbours and only Southern and Eastern European countries rank beneath it," detailed the report. The pedestrian death toll is lower than the European average (8.4 against 10.6 killed per million citizens), but it is the only one. For cyclists, the rate is at 9.6 (8.9 in Europa) while for motorists it is at 33 (23 in Europe).

"This can be explained by our very dense road network, with numerous exits and entries, but also by the fact that Belgium lies in the centre of Europe and is crossed by millions of trucks daily," said Vias spokesperson Benoît Godart to NewMobility.

"The average speed in Belgium is even higher than in France, where the speed limit is set 10 kilometres per hour higher," Godart said. During the six first months of 2018, nearly two million drivers were fined for speeding, the highest number since Vias has been keeping track.

However, Belgian roads are also Europe's second most monitored road, behind the Netherlands. "According to our study, one motorist out of eight received a speeding ticket every year," added Godart.

In terms of alcohol use, 2.7% of drivers tested positive during alcohol checks and one Belgian driver out of five even admitted to having driven under the influence. In 2017, 38 deaths were linked to drunk driving. The whole picture is not shown, however, since seriously injured or dead victims are not systematically checked for alcohol.

"In the Northern countries and the UK, it is the social standard not to drink and drive. Belgium, however, has not yet digested that concept and is still one of Europe’s biggest alcohol consumers," the Vias report said.

Drugs-related accident numbers were way below average, with 3% against the EU average of 11%, in 2017. Numbers have worsened in 2018, according to Vias, as at least one out of five young drivers had consumed drugs and taken the wheel.

Vias also pointed out that there is a large gap between men and women. Per million citizens, 95.7 men died on the road, compared to 28.6 women, in 2017.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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