A new report into urban road safety reveals that the number of traffic deaths per 100,000 inhabitants ranges from 0.9 in the world’s safest city to 24 in the worst-performing city, a difference of over 25 times.

The global benchmark of urban road safety has been published by Safer City Streets, the worldwide traffic safety network for liveable cities. Incorporating data from 31 cities in 20 countries, it reveals that Stockholm is Europe’s safest city, recording half the traffic fatalities per 100,000 inhabitants of the best-performing city in the Americas, Montreal.

The risk of being killed in a traffic collision varies greatly for the different forms of transport among cities. The risk for a pedestrian to be killed in a crash is six times higher in some cities than in others, and the risk of being killed on a bicycle varies ten-fold.

“Our benchmarking exercise provides evidence for the large differences between cities that experts long assumed. What’s important is that citizens and their elected officials can now see black on white how their city compares to others,” said Alexandre Santacreu, Safer City Streets Project Lead at the International Transport Forum.

“This will enable them to ask the right questions about how to make their city’s streets safe. With this work, we identify which cities they should learn from in order to close the gap. Cities that do not perform so well should not despair, they can now measure the room for improvement and learn a few tricks from their peers.”

Over the past decade, the number of road deaths in cities has decreased much more slowly than on the national level. In Barcelona for instance, the number of fatalities fell by 25 percent in 2011-15 compared to 2006-10, while Spain’s total fell by 44 percent. In the Paris Area, the number of fatalities remained stable, whereas France’s total fell by 20 percent.

One of the reasons for the slower progress is that city traffic has a high share of vulnerable road users: pedestrians, cyclists and users of motorised two-wheelers make up 78 percent of traffic participants, while the national median is 43 percent.

The report recommends that cities should:

  • create mobility observatories, to collect and report on a wide range of urban mobility and road safety data including on behaviours, attitudes and enforcement;
  • collect traffic casualty data from hospitals, not only from police records, to obtain more accurate data;
  • adopt ambitious targets to reduce the number of road casualties in cities.

“Promoting data-driven public policies is essential in reducing traffic fatalities and serious injuries,” said Paula Bisiau, Undersecretary of Sustainable and Safe Mobility of the City of Buenos Aires. “In this sense, the City of Buenos Aires is increasingly using the information provided by Safer City Streets to define priorities, to design targeted actions at each specific user group and to evaluate the impact of the implemented measures.”

Download “Safer City Streets: Global Benchmarking for Urban Road Safety”