British roads are often extremely busy, overcrowded and major traffic incidents quite often hold us up on our journeys – however when compared to countries worldwide (and even our European neighbours) driving in the UK is relatively safe. Safety records can of course depend on many factors, from local laws and traffic regulations to speed limits, and of course the number of drivers actually on the roads. Here’s a quick look at a handful of countries which boast excellent safety records, and the possible reasons why.
Sacandinavia as a whole fares relatively well when it comes to driver safety, with around one in a thousand motorists involved in some sort of accident annually, around a third that of the UK. Denmark boasts one of the leading safety records in Europe: there is a statutory requirement to wear seat belts at all times, and headlights must be kept on day and night. The country is also extremely strict on drink-driving, with stiff penalties for anyone caught above the legal limit. Sweden, Norway and Iceland are similarly safe.
2. San Marino
In 2013, San Marino reportedly had no road traffic fatalities – of course it is a tiny nation with an accompanying lack of drivers, but statistically it was the safest place in the world to drive!
Despite the problems of congestion, the UK actually fares very well when it comes to safety. In 2012, government statistics reported that in terms of fatalities per billions of kilometres driven, the UK ranked third among leading nations, with only Sweden and Norway doing better. When looking at figures of deaths per number of inhabitants or deaths per registered vehicle, the UK is again very close to the top of each list. The UK has a large number of younger drivers, and cheap learner driver insurance can be found with a good deal of shopping around. Many nations, especially in the developing world, have little to no restrictions on drivers, and some nations do not have formal licenses or insurance requirements, making them dramatically less safe for drivers as a whole.
For all nations with a large number of cars, Malta ranked the best in 2013 in terms of deaths per 100,000 vehicles. There were just less than 5 fatalities for every 100,000 cars, a figure bettered only by the UK and the Scandinavian countries. Of course Malta is a relatively small nation both by population and area and it would only require a couple of major incidents to dramatically alter its figures compared with much larger nations.
The German autobahns are one of the few places in the world where it’s possible to drive at very high speeds – yet despite this, German roads are among the safest in the world. There are strict rules on how to overtake, no stopping on the hard shoulder (except in dire emergency), and clear guidelines issued for vehicles with trailers. German cars are also notoriously reliable, and accidents caused by mechanical failure or neglect are rare.
Naturally, countries with more rigorous driving regulations and the need for insurance and documentation will almost certainly have better records when it comes to accidents and fatalities on the roads, though of course many other factors can come into play. Northern Europe suffers from much less severe natural disasters than some nations too, which can also be a factor when looking at accident statistics. Surprisingly, the United States has a markedly inferior safety record when it comes to drivers – this is one area in which Europe can proudly boast its clear superiority!