One in five deaths of a 17-year-old is the result of a road collision

  • November 17, 2022

More than 15 children and youngsters (aged 0-17) are killed on roads in the European Union on average every week and over 11,000 have died over the last decade, according to a new report by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), the Flemish Foundation for Traffic Knowledge (VSV) and Fundación MAPFRE which looks at how traffic education, particularly among teenagers, needs to be improved across Europe.

The data show that while road safety has improved over the past decade for this age group, the safety of children and youngsters differs vastly between European countries. The mortality rate of those under 18 is seven times higher in Bulgaria than in Norway.

Despite the improvements, 809 children and youngsters were killed on the road in 2020 alone. Half of those killed on the road were youngsters aged 15, 16 and 17. One in every five deaths among 17-year-olds results from a collision on the road.

Most youngsters are killed in single-vehicle collisions, accounting for 42% of road deaths in this age group. Most of the deaths are of young people travelling in cars. But a third of youngsters – and predominantly boys – are killed as riders or passengers of motorcycles, mopeds and scooters.

Improved knowledge of how children and youngsters are killed in traffic can help with the development of targeted interventions such as appropriate training and education policies. 

The report highlights that traffic education in Europe, while widespread at primary school level, falls away once children and youngsters move to secondary and further education in many European countries.  This shift occurs just as children are starting to move around independently and gain access to motorised vehicles.  

The report also shows that road mortality of children and youngsters is predominantly a male problem, as boys account for two-thirds (66%) of road deaths under the age of 18. This gender divide increases with age, with boys accounting for 77% of road deaths among 17-year-olds.

The report provides recommendations on what can be done at EU, national, local and school level to improve the provision and quality of traffic safety and mobility education and acts as a complement to earlier research by ETSC and others on improving vehicles, infrastructure, enforcement and other essential aspects of the ‘safe system’ approach to road safety.

The full report “LEARN! Flash 2: The Role of Education in Reducing Deaths Among Children and Youngsters on European Roads” can be downloaded from the ETSC website here, or from the LEARN! project website here:

The report is published as part of the LEARN! (Leveraging Education to Advance Road safety Now) project, by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), the Flemish Foundation for Traffic Knowledge (VSV) and Fundación MAPFRE, and aims to improve the quality of traffic safety and mobility education across Europe. More information on the project is available at:

The picture used above is from the Finnish Road Safety Council (Liikenneturva), made by Nina Mönkkönen, and available on Liikenneturva’s Flickr page.