Every driver knows that practicing good road safety is important, but how does the UK fare compared to the rest of Europe? Fortunately, recent information from both the UK’s Department for Transport and the European Commission can shed some light.
 
Safe driving is always important, both during the summer and harsh winter months, when the colder climate requires you to be more careful. So, as a nation, just how safe are we?

UK Road Fatalities

According to the recent EU Transport Scoreboard by the European Commission (EC), the UK is the third best country when it comes to fatalities.

According to the European Commission, the UK is the third best country for road safety in Europe. (Image from European Commission)

In 2015, the UK had 28 road fatalities for every 1 million inhabitants. Only Sweden (27) and Malta (26) had better results. Yet the UK is still much better than the European average of 52 fatalities per 1 million people.

crushed-kia

The UK has some of the better road safety results in Europe.

However, these results were released around the same time the Department for Transport (DoT), released its provisional results for the number of people killed or seriously injured (KSI) in 2016.

According to these results, KSIs rose from 22,830 (June 2015) to 24,620 (June 2016), with fatalities also increasing by 2% to a total of 1,800. However, the DoT also believes this increase is the result of various changes and chance factors. For example: “One partial explanation, though, could be in changes in reporting practices leading to casualties who would have formerly been classified as slight injuries being reclassified to serious injuries”

In fact, the DfT also notes that all casualties, including both KSI’s and lesser incidents, decreased by 2% - something which is more inline with the results from the EC.

How do UK roads compare to Europe?

Aside from KSIs and fatalities, how do the roads in the UK compare to the rest of Europe? According to the EC’s figures, there are a lot of areas that could use some improvement.

Or example, the UK was the worst of all 29 countries analysed for congestion. The average UK driver spends around 41.45 hours in traffic, while the European average is 29.49.

busy-traffic-on-road

Unlike road safety, traffic continues to be a problem for UK roads.

The UK also favoured less favourably for its “quality of roads”, coming 12th out of all 28 countries. On a scale between 1 (being the most negative) and 7 (being the most positive), the UK scored 5.13. While this is better than the European average of 4.77, many drivers will attest to the quality of UK roads, with potholes, aquaplaning and other issues being a frequent occurrence.

What type of car?

Another distinction of note is that, unlike other parts of Europe, the UK is behind on the adoption of alternative fuels. With an average of just 1.1%, the UK is far below the European mean of 2.9%.
 
This was also seen in the lack of charging points for electric vehicles. For every 100,000 city residents, there were 20.4 such charging locations in the UK, below the European average of 26.3.

Furthermore, it is also wise to consider the different types of drivers and car owners out there. While some people may be very safe drivers, there are those that are not. Likewise, some people take care of their vehicle and ensure it is safe to operate. Yet, as a recent study by TyreSafe shows, over 80,000 accidents occur due to poorly kept car tyres. In fact, many tyres have a tread depth under 2 mm, a far cry from the 3 mm UK tyre tread law dictates, or the recommended 4 mm limit given by various experts.

The differences between UK roads and the EU

Of course, each country is different, having its own driving customs, rules and regulations - such as when it comes to compulsory car equipment. Likewise, you should also bear in mind that each country has different weather conditions and driving environments.

country-road

Different countries have different driving conditions.

Aside from the quality of roads, it’s also worth considering whether or not countries prepare for winter. For example, many Northern and Scandinavian countries may very well invest more in winter tyres, whereas UK drivers may choose all-season tyres. Indeed, in some countries winter products are a legal requirement, but this is not the case in the UK. As such, different drivers in different countries can have their own winter car checklist, which could also greatly influence numerous safety parameters. 
 
So, are you safe a driver? As long you obey the driving laws in the UK, ensure your car is well maintained and reliable, consider the weather conditions and - of course - ensure you have good tyres (with the correct tyre pressure) it does not take much effort to stay safe on our roads.