According to near-final results from 2020, 2,782 people died in 2020 on French roads, mainland or overseas. This figure, 20% lower than in 2019, is historically low, and this spectacular evolution can mainly be explained by the impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic on mobility.
Every year at the end of January, ONISR publishes the main near-final indicators for the previous year for road traffic injury accidents recorded by police forces. These indicators are validated by the French Authority for Public Statistics (ASP).
Overview of accident rates in France (mainland and overseas)
2,782 people are estimated to have died in 2020 on the French roads. This figure, 20% lower than in 2019, is historically low, and this spectacular evolution is largely explained by the effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
The French government has contained the population over two periods, from 16 March to 10 May inclusive and from 30 October to 13 December 2020 inclusive. Outside of these periods, national and/or local curfews have been put in place.
These periods of lockdown and end of the lockdown have had major repercussions in terms of reduced economic activity, population movements, tourism and, as a result, road accidents.
In the context of the health crisis linked to Covid-19, which led to exceptional measures in mainland France and overseas (lockdown of the population from the 17th March 2020, gradual removal of lockdown from 11th May 2020, local curfew measures in October and second national lockdown from October 30 to December 14), road accident indicators show a historic drop from March 2020.
Interpretation is very complex for several reasons. Lockdown has strongly influenced the travel conditions of users.
Interpretation is very complex for several reasons. Lockdown has had a strong influence on users' travel conditions.
Because of the rules of social distancing, many users have changed their modes of transport, particularly in urban areas where individual modes (walking, e-scooters and other personal transport devices, bicycles, powered two-wheelers, cars) have been preferred to public transport.
Overview of accident rates in mainland France
2,550 people would have died in 2020 on the roads of mainland France. This is the lowest road fatalities recorded since 1924 (road deaths in 1924: 2,246 killed, 1925: 2,646 killed), even though it can be estimated that the number of vehicles on the road has increased 50-fold.
Indicators relating to accidents involving injuries recorded by law enforcement agencies, as well as those relating to the injured, are also down 20% compared with previous years. The unprecedented suddenness of this drop suggests that it cannot be explained solely by changes in road user behaviour.
The weekly evolution of injury accidents since the beginning of 2020 is very close to the evolution of the traffic indicator on the national road network (motorways and national roads, whether or not concessionary). It is therefore very likely that a large part of the decrease in accidents is due to the decrease in road traffic.
Number of fatalities by age group in mainland France
In 2020, road deaths will fall for all ages, with the exception of children and adolescents under 18 years of age, for whom the estimated number of fatalities is stable (153 fatalities in 2020).
The fall in fatalities is greatest for people aged 75 or over (-34%, or 179 fewer people killed than in 2019), who account for a quarter of the overall fall.
The smallest decline is observed for people aged between 65 and 74 (-9% or 29 fewer killed).
The fall in mortality among 18-34 year olds, users with a high road risk, is equivalent to the overall fall; it contributes nearly 1/3 of the overall fall, with 216 fewer fatalities.
Number of fatalities by user category in mainland France
The fall in fatalities in 2020 according to the main categories of users is disproportionately large compared with previous years, as the health crisis has led to a break in the usual journeys in France and abroad.
Overseas road accidents
232 people would have died on the overseas routes in 2020, 160 in the French overseas departments and 72 in the overseas collectivities or New-Caledonia. This is -8.7% (i.e. 22 fewer people killed) less than in 2020.
The impact of the health crisis on French overseas territories travel is not as marked as in mainland France: road deaths are falling but remain within the range of the last 10 years.
2020, an atypical year that requires adapting analysis methods
The year 2020 therefore presents results that break with previous years, which will introduce changes in the analysis at national and local level:
⦁ for the results of the year 2020 (comparison with several previous years)
⦁ for future years, starting with 2021, which cannot be compared to the year 2020 alone but must refer to a state "before the health crisis", which could be the year 2019, an average 2017-2019 or 2015-2019, depending on the significance of the indicators.