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Serious traffic injuries

Road accidents are responsible for many serious injuries, causing huge suffering to the victims and their families. Traffic injuries also have a major impact on society as a whole.

Many such injuries, the most common of which affect the head and the brain, result in life-long disability or seriously disrupt the victim's life. The economic cost – estimated at 2% of EU GDP every year – is also high.

EU target for reducing injuries

In the 2011 Transport White Paper, the EU proposed setting a target for reducing serious traffic injuries alongside its goal of halving fatalities by 2020. However, to set a realistic target, the total number of serious injuries in the EU should be known. Before 2013 there was no standard definition of serious road traffic injury in the EU and thus no reliable and comparable EU-wide data.

The first step towards setting a target was taken in 2013 when the EU countries agreed on a standard definition of "serious injury" for use in EU road safety statistics. It is based on a scale commonly used by medical professionals.

Collecting data

To produce comparable statistics, EU governments have been advised to do one of the following:

  • collate the relevant information from both police and hospital records
  • use only hospital records
  • use police records, but correct the figures to allow for probable under-reporting.

In 2014 EU countries started collecting data using the standard definition. The first data sets will be reported in 2015.