Road deaths steady, except among older motorcyclists

OECD Observer

The number of road deaths in the first half of 2002 was little changed from a year earlier, perhaps signaling an end to a steady decline in road fatalities that has lasted for a decade, according to preliminary figures for 12 OECD countries.

Deaths rose in Hungary, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Norway, Germany and Australia, while declining in New Zealand, Spain, Austria, the Slovak Republic, Japan and Denmark.

Though speeding and alcohol remain among the primary causes of road deaths, driving under the influence of drugs appears to be an increasing problem. Recent research in the UK found that 18% of those killed in road accidents had one or more illicit drugs in their systems. Similarly, Australian police said that 29% of people in serious accidents tested positive for illicit drugs, compared with 22% who were under the influence of alcohol.

Another emerging concern is traffic deaths among older motorcyclists. France, the UK and the US have all experienced a rapid rise in the proportion of fatalities involving riders aged 25 to 64. In the US, for instance, the sharpest increase in fatalities was for males over 40 riding larger motorcycles.

Road deaths declined by an average of 4.4% in 2001 in OECD countries for which statistics are available, and by an average annual rate of 2.3% between 1990 and 2000. Still, fatality rates vary widely among countries: the death rate per 100,000 inhabitants is twice as high in France and Belgium as compared to the UK and the Netherlands, for example. Rates tend to be lower where road safety laws are strictly enforced and a large proportion of people regularly wear seat belts.

©OECD Observer No 236, March 2003

Economic data


Stay up-to-date with the latest news from the OECD by signing up for our e-newsletter :

Twitter feed

Suscribe now

<b>Subscribe now!</b>

To receive your exclusive paper editions delivered to you directly

Online edition
Previous editions

Don't miss

  • Trade is an important point of focus in today’s international economy. This video presents facts and statistics from OECD’s most recent publications on this topic.
  • How do the largest community of British expats living in Spain feel about Brexit? Britons living in Orihuela Costa, Alicante give their views.
  • Brexit is taking up Europe's energy and focus, according to OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría. Watch video.
  • OECD Chief Economist Catherine Mann and former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King discuss the economic merits of a US border adjustment tax and the outlook for US economic growth.
  • Africa's cities at the forefront of progress: Africa is urbanising at a historically rapid pace coupled with an unprecedented demographic boom. By 2050, about 56% of Africans are expected to live in cities. This poses major policy challenges, but make no mistake: Africa’s cities and towns are engines of progress that, if harnessed correctly, can fuel the entire continent’s sustainable development.
  • OECD Observer i-Sheet Series: OECD Observer i-Sheets are smart contents pages on major issues and events. Use them to find current or recent articles, video, books and working papers. To browse on paper and read on line, or simply download.
  • How sustainable is the ocean as a source of economic development? The Ocean Economy in 2030 examines the risks and uncertainties surrounding the future development of ocean industries, the innovations required in science and technology to support their progress, their potential contribution to green growth and some of the implications for ocean management.
  • The OECD Gender Initiative examines existing barriers to gender equality in education, employment, and entrepreneurship. The gender portal monitors the progress made by governments to promote gender equality in both OECD and non-OECD countries and provides good practices based on analytical tools and reliable data.
  • They are green and local --It’s a new generation of entrepreneurs in Kenya with big dreams of sustainable energy and the drive to see their innovative technologies throughout Africa.
  • Interested in a career in Paris at the OECD? The OECD is a major international organisation, with a mission to build better policies for better lives. With our hub based in one of the world's global cities and offices across continents, find out more at .

Most Popular Articles

OECD Insights Blog

NOTE: All signed articles in the OECD Observer express the opinions of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the official views of OECD member countries.

All rights reserved. OECD 2017