Statistics Explained

Accidents and injuries statistics


Data extracted in October 2022.

Planned article update: December 2023.

Highlights

In the EU, 151 300 people died from accidents in 2017, some 3.3 % of all deaths.

In 2017, 3 000 people died from assaults in the EU, with men almost twice as likely as women to die this way.

Accidents accounted for a larger share of deaths among younger people in the EU: in 2017, more than one third of all deaths among people aged 15–24 years resulted from accidents.

[[File:Accidents and injuries-interactive_Health2022.xlsx]]

Share of all deaths caused by accidents, 2019

This article presents an overview of European Union (EU) statistics related to accidents and injuries as well as assault. It focuses on four aspects: deaths from accidents, deaths from assault, the extent of accidents, and healthcare for injuries.

Unintentional injuries result typically from transport, workplace, home and leisure time accidents. Intentional injuries result from interpersonal violence (assault) and self-harm: note that statistics on self-harm can be found in an article on mental health and are not covered here. Injuries include superficial injuries (such as abrasions, blisters, bruises, splinters and bites), open wounds, open and closed fractures, dislocations, ruptures, tears, sprains and strains, as well as injuries to nerves, the spinal cord, blood vessels, muscles, tendons and internal organs, and also crushing injuries and traumatic amputation.

This article is one of a set of statistical articles concerning health status in the EU which forms part of an online publication on health statistics.

The most recent data in this article relate to 2019 and have therefore not been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and its related restrictions.

Full article

Deaths from accidents, injuries and assault

In 2017, there were 151 300 deaths in the EU resulting from accidents, equivalent to 3.3 % of all deaths. In Slovenia, France (2017 data), Finland and the Netherlands among the EU Member States, as well as in Norway and Iceland among the EFTA countries, the proportion of deaths from accidents in 2019 was equal to or over 4.5 %. Accidents accounted for less than 2.0 % of all deaths in Bulgaria, as was also the case in Serbia among the candidate countries.

Table 1: Causes of death – accidents (including the sequelae of transport and other accidents), residents, 2019
Source: Eurostat (hlth_cd_aro) and (hlth_cd_asdr2)

In 2017, a higher share of deaths among men (than among women) in the EU were from accidents (3.8 % compared with 2.7 %). This pattern was repeated in 2019 across all of the EU Member States except for Luxembourg and the Netherlands, where the share among women was higher than that among men. The most pronounced gender differences were in the Baltic Member States where the difference between the sexes – with higher shares among men – was at least 3.0 percentage points.

Men more likely than women to die from all types of accidents

The EU's standardised death rate for accidents was 33.0 deaths per 100 000 inhabitants in 2017. The death rate for men (46.2 per 100 000 inhabitants) was just over double that for women (22.1 per 100 000 inhabitants) – see Table 1. In all EU Member States the standardised death rate for men in 2019 was higher than that for women, most notably in the Baltic Member States and Romania where the difference was more than 40 deaths per 100 000 inhabitants.

While accidents were a more common cause of death at advanced ages, the difference between the rates for people aged less than 65 years and those aged 65 years and over was relatively narrow compared with other causes of death. The EU's standardised death rate from accidents for those aged 65 years and over was 8 times as high as the rate for persons aged less than 65 years; for all causes of death the standardised death rate for those aged 65 years and over was 21 times as high as for the younger generations.

A more detailed analysis of causes of death is presented in Table 2 for a selection of accidents as well as assault. Among men and women, the three leading causes of death from accidents were the miscellaneous category of other accidents (including, for example, burns, electrocution, crushing and overexertion), falls and transport accidents. For the causes of death shown in this table, standardised death rates for women were rarely higher than those for men in nearly all EU Member States. The rare exceptions included falls in Luxembourg, other accidents in Malta, and assault in Cyprus, Malta, Austria, and Luxembourg.

Table 2: Standardised death rates – accidents and assault, 2019
(per 100 000 male/female inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (hlth_cd_asdr2)


In 2019, there were some particularly high standardised death rates for some of these types of accidents in individual EU Member States.

  • For transport accidents, standardised death rates for men and for women were at least double the EU average (2017 data) in Romania. Among the EFTA countries, this was also the case for women in Liechtenstein.
  • For falls, standardised death rates among women were more than treble the EU average (for 2017) in Slovenia, Croatia and the Netherlands; among men, the rates were more than double the EU average in Slovenia and Croatia. Among the EFTA countries, there was also a relatively high death rate for falls among women in Switzerland.
  • For accidental drowning and submersion, standardised death rates for men and for women in Latvia and Lithuania were at least 3.5 times as high as the EU average.
  • For accidental poisoning and exposure to noxious substances, the rates for men were 4.5 times as high as the EU average in Lithuania and 5.6 times as high in Estonia; among women, rates were 4.3 times as high as the EU average in Estonia. Among the EFTA countries, a particularly high rate of deaths from accidental poisoning and exposure to noxious substances was observed among women in Iceland.

The highest standardised death rates for assault among males were in the Baltic Member States

In 2017, 3 040 people died from assaults in the EU, equivalent to 0.07 % of the total number of deaths. In 2017, the standardised death rate for assault was 0.7 per 100 000 inhabitants for the EU, with the rate for males approximately twice as high as for females (0.9 deaths per 100 000 male inhabitants compared with a ratio of 0.5 deaths per 100 000 female inhabitants).

Among males, the highest standardised death rates for assaults in the EU Member States were recorded for the Baltic Member States, each recording rates that were at least 3.5 times as high as the EU average (for 2017). Among females, rates that were at least twice as high as the EU average (for 2017) were observed in Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania.

Standardised death rates for assault in 2019 were approximately the same for males and females in Luxembourg, while the rate for females was higher than that for males in Austria, Malta and Cyprus; in the remaining EU Member States, the rate was higher for males than for females. Among the EFTA countries, Norway also recorded a notably higher standardised death rate for assault among females than among males.

Age matters for death from accidents and assaults

The impact of accidents is important both for younger and older people. On the one hand, accidents and injuries may trigger a fatal deterioration in the health of older people: close to two-thirds (65.9 %) of all deaths from accidents in the EU in 2017 were among people aged 65 years and over. On the other hand, a relatively high proportion of people under the age of 65 years die from accidents: the proportion of the total number of deaths that were caused by accidents was 2.5 times as high for people aged less than 65 years (6.5 %) than it was for people aged 65 years and over (2.6 %).

Between the ages of 1 and 4 years and for all five-year age groups between the ages of 5 and 34 years, accidents were the single most common cause of death (when comparing with the other major categories in the 10th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10)). Among the five-year age groups between the ages of 1 and 34 years, accidents accounted for approximately one-fifth or more of all deaths, with this share peaking at 36 % for people aged 15–19 years (see Figure 1). Looking across the age groups from youngest to oldest, there is a large jump in the number (and also the share) of deaths from accidents when moving from the age group 10–14 years to the age group 15–19 years: there were 4.7 times as many deaths from accidents in the older of these two age groups than in the younger one. This large jump can, in part, be attributed to deaths from transport accidents, which alone accounted for nearly one quarter (24.0 %) of all deaths among people aged 15–19 years.

Figure 1: Share of all deaths caused by accidents, EU, 2017
(%)
Source: Eurostat (hlth_cd_aro)


Compared with accidents, the age profile of people in the EU dying from assaults was even more skewed away from older people: four-fifths (79.7 %) of people killed by assaults in 2017 were aged less than 65 years. The five-year age range with the highest number of deaths from assaults was for people aged 45–49 years, some 314 deaths from assaults in 2017 (equivalent to just over one tenth of all deaths from assaults). Nevertheless, as a share of all deaths within each age group, deaths from assaults were most common in the age groups 1–4 years through to 45–49 years, peaking at 2.6 % of all deaths for those aged 5–9 years.

The extent of accidents

Figures 2 and 3 present data from the third wave of the European health interview survey (EHIS) which was conducted for 2019 and which covered persons aged 15 years and over. The survey included questions asking about injuries – resulting from transport accidents or accidents at home or while undertaking leisure activities – in the previous 12 months. Data for accidents are available for all of the EU Member States, Iceland, Norway, Serbia and Türkiye.

The proportion of people who answered that they had been injured in an accident at home or while undertaking leisure activities was less than 3.5 % in Poland and Romania, as well as in Bulgaria where the lowest proportion (2.3 %) was recorded. By contrast, the proportion was close to 11 % in Estonia and Luxembourg and around 12 % in Germany, Austria and Czechia, peaking in Finland at 12.2 %.

Figure 2: Share of the population aged 15 years and over reporting that they had an accident within the previous 12 months resulting in injury either at home or during a leisure pursuit, 2019
(%)
Source: Eurostat (hlth_ehis_ac1e)

In around half (13 out of 27) of the EU Member States, a higher proportion of males (than females) reported injuries either at home or during a leisure pursuit in 2019, with the largest difference by sex in Finland. There was no difference between the sexes for this indicator in Denmark and Luxembourg. Among the 12 EU Member States where a higher proportion of females reported injuries, the difference was greatest in Malta and Croatia.

Accidents at home or while undertaking leisure activities more frequently reported by the youngest and oldest generations than by those in middle age groups

An analysis by 10-year age ranges shows that the proportion of people in the EU who answered that they had been injured in an accident at home or while undertaking leisure activities tended to fall as the age group studied increased from youths (15–24 years) through to middle age. Among the EU Member States, the proportion was mostly lowest in the age groups 55–64 years and 65–74 years. Bulgaria, Cyprus and Poland were notable exceptions, as the lowest proportions were recorded for those aged 15–24 years. After middle age, the proportion of people reporting an accident that resulted in injury increased again, peaking in about half of the EU Member States in the highest age group covered (persons aged 75 years and over).

Road traffic accidents most frequently reported by younger people

Across all EU Member States , the proportions of people reporting in 2019 that they had been injured in road traffic accidents (see Figure 3) within the previous 12 months was systematically lower – for males and for females – than the proportion reporting they had been injured following accidents at home or while undertaking leisure activities. The share of people reporting a road traffic accident was lowest in Bulgaria and Romania (0.3 % and 0.2 % respectively for both sexes combined). For all of the other EU Member States, this share was at least 0.7 %, with the highest shares recorded in Belgium (2.4 %) and Germany (2.2 %). There was a fairly clear gender difference for road traffic accidents across the EU Member States, with males more likely than females to report that they had an injury from a road traffic accident. In Denmark, the proportions were the same for males and for females, whereas in Lithuania, Portugal, Finland, Latvia and Luxembourg the proportion was higher for females.

Figure 3: Share of the population aged 15 years and over reporting that they had a road traffic accident within the previous 12 months resulting in injury, 2019
(%)
Source: Eurostat (hlth_ehis_ac1e)

An analysis by age for road traffic accidents shows a different pattern than for accidents at home or while undertaking leisure activities. For the EU as a whole, the proportion fell from 2.7 % among young people (aged 15–24 years) to 0.8 % among those aged 65 years and over.

For a small majority of EU Member States, the highest proportion of people reporting that they had been injured in a road traffic accident was recorded among young people aged 15–24 years. By contrast, in Bulgaria the joint highest proportions were registered in the three 10-year age groups from 35–44 years to 55–64 years, while in Czechia the highest proportion was among those aged 45–54 years. The lowest shares tended to be reported in one or other of the 10-year age groups from 65–74 years upwards.

Healthcare for injuries, poisoning and other consequences of external causes

Austria, Germany and Bulgaria had the highest number of in-patient discharges for patients treated for accidents and injuries (relative to population size)

There were around 6.2 million in-patients with injuries, poisoning and certain other consequences of external causes (ICD codes S00–T98; hereafter referred to as accidents and injuries) discharged from hospitals in the EU (2019 data except: 2018 data for Germany, Malta and Finland; 2016 data for Denmark and Luxembourg; no recent data for Greece). In-patient discharges of those treated for accidents and injuries accounted for 10.1 % or more of the total number of in-patient hospital discharges in Cyprus and Austria, while they accounted for just 6.0 % of the total number of in-patient discharges in Bulgaria and 4.4 % in Romania.

Relative to population size, Austria, Germany (2018 data) and Bulgaria recorded the highest number of in-patient discharges for those treated for accidents and injuries (see Figure 4 for data availability), with 2 902, 2 449 and 2 065 per 100 000 inhabitants respectively. In Portugal, this ratio was 723 per 100 000 inhabitants (see Figure 4). Among the non-EU member countries shown, a relatively high rate was also observed in Switzerland and low rates in Serbia and in Montenegro.

Figure 4: Hospital discharge rates for in-patients with injuries, poisoning and certain other consequences of external causes, 2019
(per 100 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (hlth_co_disch2)

Particularly long average length of stay for in-patients with a fracture of the femur

Across the EU, in-patients with accidents and injuries spent a total of 47 million days in hospital (2019 data except: 2018 data for Germany, Estonia, Malta and Finland; 2016 data for Denmark and Luxembourg; no recent data for Greece).

An analysis of the average length of hospital stays for in-patients treated for accidents and injuries shows that in 2019 (see Table 3) this average ranged from 4.1 days in Bulgaria up to 8.5 days in Spain and Belgium, with Italy, Czechia and Portugal above this range, averaging 10.1, 10.4 and 10.6 days respectively. Comparing the average length of stay in 2014 with that in 2019, most EU Member States reported increases or decreases of 0.8 days or less; Finland recorded a larger decrease, while Spain and Lithuania recorded larger increases.

Table 3: In-patient average length of stay for injury, poisoning and certain other consequences of external causes, 2014 and 2019
(days)
Source: Eurostat (hlth_co_inpst)

The remainder of Table 3 provides a more detailed analysis of the average length of hospital stays for in-patients diagnosed with five different types of accidents and injuries. In-patients with a fracture of the femur (code S72) tended to spend the highest average number of days in hospital, whereas those poisoned by drugs, medicaments and biological substances or treated for toxic effects (codes T36–T65) generally spent the lowest average number of days in hospital.

Source data for tables and graphs

Data sources

Key concepts

An in-patient is a patient who is formally admitted (or 'hospitalised') to an institution for treatment and/or care and stays for a minimum of one night or more than 24 hours in the hospital or other institution providing in-patient care. An in-patient or day care patient is discharged from hospital when formally released after a procedure or course of treatment (episode of care). A discharge may occur because of the finalisation of treatment, signing out against medical advice, transfer to another healthcare institution, or because of death.

The number of deaths from a particular cause of death can be expressed relative to the size of the population. A standardised (rather than crude) death rate can be compiled which is independent of the age and sex structure of a population: this is done as most causes of death vary significantly by age and according to sex and the standardisation facilitates comparisons of rates over time and between countries.

Healthcare resources and activities

Statistics on healthcare activities (such as information on hospital discharges) are documented in this background article which provides information on the scope of the data, its legal basis, the methodology employed, as well as related concepts and definitions.

For hospital discharges and the length of stay in hospitals, the International Shortlist for Hospital Morbidity Tabulation (ISHMT) is used to classify data from 2000 onwards; Chapter XIX covers injury, poisoning and certain other consequences of external causes:

  • intracranial injury (1901);
  • other injuries to the head (1902);
  • fracture of forearm (1903);
  • fracture of femur (1904);
  • fracture of lower leg, including ankle (1905);
  • other injuries (1906);
  • burns and corrosions (1907);
  • poisonings by drugs, medicaments and biological substances and toxic effects of substances chiefly nonmedicinal as to source (1908);
  • complications of surgical and medical care, not elsewhere classified (1909);
  • sequelae of injuries, of poisoning and of other consequences of external causes (1910);
  • other and unspecified effects of external causes (1911).

For country specific notes on this data collection, please refer to this background information document.

Health status (extent of injuries)

Self-reported statistics covering the health status of the population for road traffic and other accidents are provided by the European health interview survey (EHIS). This source is documented in more detail in this background article which provides information on the scope of the data, its legal basis, the methodology employed, as well as related concepts and definitions. The data presented in this article refer to the share of the population aged 15 years and over reporting to have been injured through transport accidents or accidents at home or while undertaking leisure activities during the 12 months prior to the survey.

Causes of death

Statistics on causes of death provide information on mortality patterns, supplying information on developments over time in the underlying causes of death. This source is documented in more detail in this background article which provides information on the scope of the data, its legal basis, the methodology employed, as well as related concepts and definitions.

Causes of death are classified according to the European shortlist (86 causes), which is based on the 10th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10). Chapter XX of the ICD-10 covers external causes of morbidity and mortality, including:

  • V01–X59 accidents;
    • V01–V99 transport accidents;
    • W00–X59 other external causes of accidental injury;
      • W00–W19 falls;
      • W65–W74 accidental drowning and submersion;
      • X40–X49 accidental poisoning by and exposure to noxious substances;
      • other accidents
        • W20–W49 exposure to inanimate mechanical forces;
        • W50–W64 exposure to animate mechanical forces;
        • W75–W84 other accidental threats to breathing;
        • W85–W99 exposure to electric current, radiation and extreme ambient air temperature and pressure;
        • X00–X09 exposure to smoke, fire and flames;
        • X10–X19 contact with heat and hot substances;
        • X20–X29 contact with venomous animals and plants;
        • X30–X39 exposure to forces of nature;
        • X50–X57 overexertion, travel and privation;
        • X58–X59 accidental exposure to other and unspecified factors;
  • X85–Y09 assault;
  • Y85–Y89 sequelae of external causes of morbidity and mortality;
    • Y85 sequelae of transport accidents;
    • Y86 sequelae of other accidents;
    • Y87 sequelae of intentional self-harm, assault and events of undetermined intent;
      • Y87.1 sequelae of assault.

Important note: for the statistics presented in this article, deaths from the sequelae of transport accidents are included under transport accidents, deaths from the sequelae of other accidents are included under other accidents. Equally, deaths from the sequelae of assault are included under assault. Sequelae denotes a chronic condition resulting from a certain disease or injury.

Symbols

Tables in this article use the following notation:

Value in italics    estimate or provisional data;
Value is –  not relevant or not applicable;
Value is :  not available.

Context

The importance of action to prevent accidents and injuries can be seen from an overview of the causes of death statistics. Leading to 151 000 deaths in 2017 (3.3 % of all deaths), accidents were the one of the most common causes of death within the EU.

In June 2006, the European Commission adopted a Communication on Actions for a safer Europe (COM(2006) 0328 final) emphasising prevention measures. In May 2007, a Council Recommendation on the prevention of injury and the promotion of safety was adopted, targeting seven key priority areas, namely the safety of children and adolescents, elderly citizens, and vulnerable road users, as well as the prevention of sports injuries, injuries caused by products and services, self-harm, and interpersonal violence.

One of the actions conducted as part of the EU's health programme for 2008–2013 was a joint action on monitoring injuries in Europe (JAMIE). The overall objective of JAMIE was, by the end of 2013, to have a common hospital-based injury surveillance system in operation in the majority of EU Member States. JAMIE aimed to refine the methodology for collecting hospital-based injury data with a view to facilitate data collection and incorporate countries into the European injury database (IDB) monitoring system and exchange mechanism. The joint action offered assistance such as standardised training for national data administrators, twinning programmes, on-site consultations and country specific coaching for EU Member States which needed to start or restart a system, as well as continuous supervision and joint monitoring actions concerning the level of implementation in each Member State.

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Health care (t_hlth_care)
Causes of death (t_hlth_cdeath)
Health status (hlth_state)
Injuries from accidents (hlth_ifa)
Persons reporting an accident resulting in injury by sex, age and educational attainment level (hlth_ehis_ac1e)
Health care (hlth_care)
Health care activities (hlth_act)
Hospital discharges and length of stay for inpatient and curative care (hlth_co_dischls)
Hospital discharges - national data (hlth_hosd)
Length of stay in hospital (hlth_hostay)
Causes of death (hlth_cdeath)
General mortality (hlth_cd_gmor)
Causes of death - deaths by country of residence and occurrence (hlth_cd_aro)
Causes of death - standardised death rate by residence (hlth_cd_asdr2)