Road accidents rising in Belgium post Covid

By Isobel Duxfield / Updated: 06 Jun 2022

In Belgium, fatalities and injuries resulting from road traffic accidents are rising, compared to the Covid-affected year of 2021. A total of 111 people died in traffic accidents in the first three months of 2022, which is 50% more than the same period last year. This is according to the latest road safety barometer from the Vias Institute based on figures from the Federal Police (Vias’ traffic safety barometer is published quarterly). The rise in fatal accidents threatens Belgium’s goal of having zero road deaths by 2050. Brussels has set an even more ambitious target to reach the same level 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, the number of accidents that led to an injury on week nights increased by 93% and by 157% on weekends. Accidents involving e-scooters in Belgium are also on the rise in the first quarter of 2022, while cyclists are also increasingly being injured as a result of traffic accidents (up around 15%). At the national level, an increase in the number of fatalities is particularly noticeable among car occupants (an increase of around 50%) and among pedestrians – 22 have died so far this year compared to six in the first quarter of last year. Within Belgian's regions, in both Flanders and Brussels, the number of accidents involving injuries to cyclists in the first quarter of 2022 was the highest recorded in the last ten years, while in Wallonia, the number of cyclists involved in accidents with injuries decreased by 14%.

The new figures come amidst a growing number of initiatives that aim to tackle road safety. A Flemish Foundation for Traffic Knowledge (VSV) initiative assists mayors, mobility officers and those involved in law enforcement in engineering and enforcing traffic safety, by engaging schools and cyclist unions in cycling safety projects. The programme has some particularly interesting characteristics: coaching is conducted in situ, with a trained facilitator who is also a road safety expert. Self-evaluation is a key component, with participants using a self-analysis tool to score themselves on a series of topics. These topics include policy and organisation, education and communication, engineering, enforcement and monitoring and evaluation. The self-evaluation ‘scores’ use a colour scheme (instead of numbers, for easier visualisation) and are based on a scale developed in the field of total quality management.

In addition, in 2021 Brussels introduced a generalised 30 km/h speed limit across the entire region. The new rule, which came into effect on 1 January 2021 applies to all motorised vehicles, as well as bikes and scooters, although it excludes trams, emergency vehicles in blue-light mode and snow ploughs.

Original article published by Brussels Times on 18 May 2022

Photo Credit: © ANADMAN BVBA - no permission to re-use image(s) without separate licence from Shutterstock.

Northern Europe
Safety and urban mobility