Deadly road accidents in Sweden drop to record low

Deadly road accidents in Sweden drop to record low
Road deaths dropped by over 100 in Sweden last year. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT
Last year saw the lowest number of people killed in car crashes in Sweden since World War Two, according to new figures.

A total of 223 people died on Swedish roads in 2019, according to preliminary statistics by the Swedish Transport Agency.

That is the lowest number since the agency began keeping records in the early 1950s and a sharp decrease from 2018 when there were 324 road deaths.

The drop is mainly due to fewer passenger car crashes (in total 110 deaths in such crashes, with the remaining passengers travelling in buses or trucks), and especially single-vehicle accidents. The latter remained the most common type of accident, with 44 fatalities, followed by 43 deaths in head-on collisions.

Ryo Yamazaki, a statistician at the Transport Agency, told The Local it was “difficult to say” exactly which safety measures had brought down the number of fatalities, adding it could be a “random fluctuation”.

“We have not made a full analysis yet. It could be just good fortune, but also the bad summer and mild winter in 2019 has had an effect. We also see that during economic prosperity the traffic mortalities tend to go up, when the economy starts to go worse we see a decrease in accidents,” he said.

Twenty-eight motorcyclists died in accidents last year, down from 47 the year before, according to the Transport Agency. And 26 pedestrians died after being hit by vehicles, including one minor and 10 people aged 65 or older. Fifteen cyclists died, compared to 23 in 2018 – ten of them were aged above 65.

Meanwhile, other means of transport saw a spike in casualties in 2019, with a total of 112 railway deaths (up from 97 in 2018), 20 in traffic at sea (up from 15, but down compared to previous years) and 11 deaths in aviation accidents (up from two in 2018).

In 1997, Sweden introduced a road safety policy named Vision Zero, with the long-term aim of cutting fatal accidents to zero. There has been an overall drop in road deaths over the past decades, with the exception of 2018 which stood out as a particularly deadly year.

“We've set the goal to half the number of people killed in traffic from 2007 to 2020. The target is to keep the number around 220 in 2020. I think it's achievable to reach this goal this year. But there always is random variation in the statistics,” said Yamazaki.

Swedish vocabulary 

road – (en) väg

pedestrian – (en) fotgängare

passenger car – (en) personbil

motorcycle – (en) motorcykel

bicycle – (en) cykel

Reporting by Emma Löfgren and Tim Marringa


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