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Germany: accidents on German roands in 2020

Number of road deaths and injuries at lowest level for more than 60 years

Notarztwagen bei einem Rettungseinsatz
Notarztwagen bei einem Rettungseinsatz © Alexander Hunger

Accident statistics for Germany 2020: Fewer road accidents, except for cyclists

In 2020, a total of 97,296 cyclists were injured in road accidents on German roads, the vast majority of them in built-up areas (84,765). 438 cyclists died, 174 of them in urban areas. 17,737 cyclists suffered serious injuries.

Overview of accidents

In 2020, a total of just over 2.2 million road accidents were recorded by the police nationwide (16.4 per cent less than in 2019). In just under 2.0 million accidents, there was property damage, while people were injured or killed in around 264,000 road accidents. The number of accidents with property damage fell by 17.0 per cent compared to 2019, while the number of accidents with personal injury fell by 11.9 per cent.

The number of accidents with personal injury decreased by 11.9 per cent to 264,499 compared to 2019. As before, most accidents with personal injury occurred within built-up areas (69.3 per cent); however, only 29.8 per cent of fatalities were registered here. On roads outside built-up areas (excluding motorways), 24.9 per cent of the accidents involving personal injury occurred, but 58.6 per cent of the road accident victims were killed here. On the motorways, 5.8 per cent of all accidents with personal injury and 11.7 per cent of all fatalities were recorded.

This difference in the distribution of accidents and fatalities clearly shows that the accidents on roads outside built-up areas had worse consequences, partly because of the higher driving speeds. If the ratio of the number of fatalities to the number of accidents with personal injury is used as a measure of accident severity, this is confirmed: While in 2020 there were 4 fatalities for every 1,000 accidents with personal injury in built-up areas, the corresponding figure for motorways was 21 and for rural roads as many as 24 fatalities.

The „collision with another vehicle turning or crossing“ was the most frequent type of accident within built-up areas, at 30.9 percent, while "leaving the carriageway" was in first place outside built-up areas. Almost every third accident outside built-up areas (29.7 percent) was due to this type of accident.

Within built-up areas, the "turning/crossing accident" (24.8 percent) was in first place among the accident types. However, if one looks at the consequences of accidents, most people were killed in "driving accidents" (22.0 per cent) within built-up areas. Outside built-up areas, the "driving accident" dominated with 33.0 percent, just ahead of the "accident in longitudinal traffic" with 32.2 percent, in which 30.8 percent of all fatalities were counted. In contrast, most people were killed in "driving accidents" (42.1 per cent).

Overview of the casualties

In 2020, 2,719 people died on the roads, which was 327 road deaths or 10.7 per cent less than in 2019. A further 58,005 road users were seriously injured (-11.1 per cent) and 269,545 were slightly injured (-15.5 per cent). In 2020, the number of road traffic fatalities decreased for almost all types of road users. The largest decrease, in absolute terms, was for passenger car occupants (-194 fatalities or -14.2 per cent), followed by users of motorbikes with registration plates (-43 fatalities or -7.9 per cent) and goods road transport vehicles (-28 fatalities or -18.4 per cent). The dominance of passenger cars in road traffic is evidenced by the high proportion of passenger car occupants among the accident victims: 43.0 percent of the traffic fatalities and 48.2 percent of the injured were injured in a passenger car. 18.4 percent of those killed were users of motorbikes with registration plates, 15.7 percent were using a bicycle and 13.8 percent were pedestrians.

The largest share, 32.9 per cent of all fatalities, was in the group of senior citizens (65 years and older). 12.0 percent of all road fatalities were in the 18-24 age group, the age group with the most novice drivers. In relation to one million inhabitants of their age group, seniors with 49 fatalities and young adults with 52 fatalities are the most vulnerable age groups.

The number of fatalities is decreasing in all age groups. The largest decrease was among seniors (-143 persons or -13.8 per cent) and among young drivers aged 18 to 24 (-37 persons or -10.2 per cent) among those under 15 from 55 to 48 fatalities (-12.7 per cent). The decrease was smallest among young people (64 compared to 66 or -3.0 per cent).

Overview of those involved

In 2020, the police counted 491,483 people involved in 264,499 road traffic accidents with personal injury. More than every tenth person involved was injured in solo accidents without the involvement of another road user, 14.0 percent were involved in accidents with at least three people. Almost two thirds (58.2 per cent) of all those involved in personal injury accidents were car drivers, and in the case of serious accidents involving damage to property (in the narrower sense) their share was as high as 85.4 per cent. Only 33.7 percent of all those involved in accidents with personal injury were women. Among the drivers of passenger cars involved in accidents, it was 37.4 percent. 11.5 per cent of all main parties involved in accidents were young male and female passenger car drivers aged 18-24. For those 65 years or older, the figure was 10.9 per cent.

49,498 cyclists were found to be the main cause of accidents with personal injury in 2020. In total, just over 286,000 car drivers were involved in an accident with personal injury in 2020. Around 163,000 car drivers, or 57.0 percent, were also at fault for the accident: More than two thirds (68.2 percent) of the car drivers between 18 and 20 years of age who were involved in an accident were classified as the main cause of the accident. This proportion decreases with increasing age and reached its lowest value in 2020 in the age group between 45 and 50 years (50.1 percent). In the age groups above this, the share of main polluters in all participants of the respective age group increases again. The proportion was particularly high among seniors who were at least 75 years old. Three quarters (76.0 percent) of the car drivers in this age group were mainly to blame for the accident in which they were involved.

Causes of accidents

Human error was by far the most frequent cause of accidents. 88.5 percent of the causes of accidents with personal injury in 2020 were driver error and 2.9 percent pedestrian error. 7.5 percent were general causes of accidents, such as slippery roads due to rain or snow or impaired visibility due to fog. Technical defects and maintenance deficiencies accounted for 1.0 percent of the causes of accidents. 51.3 percent of these accident-causing technical defects occurred on motorbikes or bicycles.

Personal accident causes (misconduct of those involved) were identified by the police 320,946 times in accidents with personal injury, which was an average of 1.2 errors per accident or 653 misconducts per 1,000 people involved in the accident. The majority of these errors, namely 62.0 percent, were attributed to car drivers according to their involvement in the accident. Misconduct by cyclists was recorded by the police 65,329 times.

Characteristics and special features of accident sites within built-up areas

In 2020, a total of 183,412 accidents with personal injury were recorded within built-up areas. The following "special features of the accident site" were recorded: 10,512 times "cycling facility next to the carriageway" , 6,914 times "cycling facility on the carriageway", 4,515 times "compulsory use of the cycling facility". Under "Characteristics of the accident site",  "intersection" was entered 39,504 times, "junction" 37,951 times, "entrance or exit to property" 16,055 times, "bend" 8,181 times and "roundabout" 4,428 times.

Single-vehicle accidents with personal injury affected 20,888 cyclists in built-up areas and 4,995 cyclists outside built-up areas. In single-vehicle accidents 71 cyclists died in urban areas and 47 in extra-urban areas.

Of the 100,159 cyclists involved in road traffic accidents, 4,954 were involved in January, 4,262 in February, 4,476 in March, 7,955 in April, 10,072 in May, 12,141 in June, 12,835 in July, 11,994 in August, 12,868 in September, 7,995 in October, 6 in November and 4,136 in December.

More detailed information can be found in the annual publication "Fachserie 8, Reihe 7 Verkehrsunfälle 2020" (Text in German)