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Coronavirus restrictions reduced driving deaths, International Transport Forum says

October 27, 2020

The coronavirus crisis and lockdown measures limited road traffic and saved lives in early 2020, according to an annual report released Tuesday by the International Transport Forum (ITF).

“The number of road fatalities fell significantly during the first months of 2020. The main reason for this was lockdown imposed in many countries in response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” detailed the ITF, which operated within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

“Strict containment measures aimed at reducing the spread of the virus resulted in a decrease in economic activity and in the movement of people and, therefore, in the number of road casualties.”

New Zealand recorded 80 fewer deaths in April 2020 than in April 2019, Italy 79 fewer, South Africa 78, Morocco 65, and France 56.

However, “the number of road deaths has not fallen in proportion to the decrease in traffic,” and “some countries contributing to this report registered increases in average speeds and in the severity of road crashes,” the ITF underlined.

Of the 29 countries analyzed, only Denmark, Sweden (which did not establish any confinement) and the Netherlands had experienced an increase in the number of deaths on the road compared to last year.

Even before the pandemic, most of the countries in the OECD’s international traffic database were already registering a decrease in the number of traffic deaths.

The three most dangerous countries in the OECD in 2018-19 — by number of accidents per 100,000 inhabitants — were South Africa, Costa Rica and Colombia.

According to the latest data, Costa Rica has a road traffic-related mortality rate of 15.7 (deaths per 100,000 inhabitants).

More than 1.3 million people die each year on the world’s roads, and tens of millions are seriously injured.

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