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Metadata: Road casualties


Statbel, Eurostat


Road traffic accident: an accident involving two or more road users is considered as one single road traffic accident. Only road traffic accidents that occurred on the public road and resulting in deaths and injuries are included in these statistics. Collisions and accidents on privately owned land or in sports competitions are not included. Accidents involving only material damage have not been included since 1973.

Road deaths: all persons who died on the scene or within 30 days of the date on which the accident occurred.

Seriously injured traffic victims: all persons who sustained injuries in a road traffic accident and whose conditions required them to be admitted into hospital for longer than 24 hours.

Minor injured traffic victims: all persons who sustained injuries in a road traffic accident but do not qualify as ‘seriously injured’ or ‘road death’.

The accidents and casualties can be broken down by type of road user:

Passenger car: passenger car, dual purpose car, mini bus, camper van.

Light goods vehicle: light truck.

Truck: truck/lorry, tractor + trailer, tractor by itself.

Bus: bus, coach.

Moped: moped A (two-wheeled), moped B (two-wheeled), moped with 3 or 4 wheels.

Motorcycle: motorcycle with engine capacity of no more than 400 cc, motorcycle with engine capacity in excess of 400 cc.

Bicycle: bicycle

Pedestrian: disabled person in a wheelchair, pedestrian pushing his moped/bicycle, other pedestrian.

Other: farming tractor, trolley bus, horseman, horse and carriage, other road user, unknown, not available.

For the ratios according to the number of inhabitants, we use the average number of inhabitants for year X: ((inhabitants on 1 January year x + inhabitants on 1 January year x+1) / 2)

Remarks on quality

In Belgium, as in most European countries, the information on road traffic accidents involving physical injuries is gathered by the Police. For each accident, the Police draws up an official report (proces-verbaal PV) as well as an analysis form containing a lot of additional information. Since 2003, the forms are generated automatically by computer software, after the Police have registered the official report (proces-verbaal) they drew up for the accident. The data collected are subsequently forwarded to the General Directorate for Statistics of the Federal Public Service Economy (FOD Economie) (Statbel) where they are adjusted (i.e. by adding the persons who died within 30 days, as obtained from the reports (PVs) of the Public Prosecution Services that are not included in the database of the Police) and validated.

The data regarding fatalities are the most reliable and most stable. In case of fatal road traffic accidents, it is more than likely that the Police or the Public Prosecution Service intervene. It is very likely that the data on the casualties with minor injuries are underestimated, particularly for vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists). Belgian and international research estimates the reporting rate of fatal accidents by the Police at 90% (which still leaves us with scope to enhance the results thanks to the data from the Public Prosecution Services). This reporting rate stands at 50% for casualties who were admitted into hospital and at less than 20% for casualties with minor injuries (who were not admitted into hospital).

The data from 2005 to 2017 were revised by the Police. In June 2018, Statbel updated the road traffic accident data. Between 2005 and 2017, we witnessed a strikingly high number of ‘unknown’ for a number of important variables (including district, road condition, weather conditions). For more recent years, this is less of a problem. In all cases, the latest publication is valid.

It is important to remember that we are dealing with a figure based on one calendar year. In the event of a serious accident occurring that year, involving multiple victims, a municipality can easily rise above the Flemish figure. This certainly applies to municipalities with a small number of inhabitants.

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