In January 2021, 171 fatalities occurred on the roads of mainland France and 22 overseas.
|Warning: as the health crisis linked to Covid-19 has led the government to take exceptional measures to restrict travel and activities, since March 2020 the evolution of road accidents reflects the hazards linked to the measures and the way in which the French have adapted their mobility according to the periods. The curfew between 8 pm and 6 am introduced on 14 December 2020 is extended from 6 pm to 6 am from 12 January 2021 for 25 départements, and on Saturday 16 January for the whole of mainland France.
Road accident indicators have shown very atypical trends since March 2020, which are difficult to interpret. Specific insights have been provided during the quarterly dashboards since the June 2020 dashboard.
171 fatalities on the roads of France mainland in January 2021, a particularly low number compared with the number recorded in January 2020 (almost 100 fewer people killed). 3,472 traffic injury accidents were recorded by the police, i.e. around 1,000 fewer than in January 2020.
Travel restrictions (curfews) and reduced commuting to work (teleworking) are the main reasons for the lower number of road accidents. But this is not the only reason: January 2020 saw one of the highest accident rates in the last 10 years, as the mild weather was favourable for travel, especially leisure travel. The number of fatalities between January 2020 and January 2021 was four times higher than the number of fatalities observed between January 2019 and January 2020. The number of injury accidents between January 2020 and January 2021 is only double the number of injury accidents observed between January 2019 and January 2020.
The number of fatalities fell more sharply between January 2020 and January 2021 (-35%) than the number of accidents or injuries (-24% and -25% respectively).
Pedestrians fatalities, often sustained during the winter period due to traveling at night as night falls early, clearly benefited from the 6 p.m. curfew, which forces the French to return to their homes during the day. With 26 estimated pedestrian deaths in January 2021, this is about twenty less than both January 2020 and January 2019.
On the other hand, motorcycles fatalities, with 29 killed, are higher than in January 2020 and January 2019, and equivalent to January 2018.
Fatalities in January 2021 for car users fell by -44% compared to January 2020: it is estimated that 89 car users were killed compared to 160 in January 2020 and 139 in January 2019, i.e. 71 fewer killed than in January 2020 and 50 fewer than in January 2019.
Fatalities among 18-24 year olds appear to be declining more sharply than those among seniors aged 65 or older; however, they had risen sharply last year and are now back to the January 2019 level. On the other hand, senior fatalities show a real decrease compared to the level of the last two years, a decrease that contributes to both the decrease in car user fatalities and the decrease in pedestrian fatalities.
Fatalities in rural areas fell more sharply in January 2021 than in urban areas in January 2020 compared to January 2020, but this is partly offset by the sharp increase in fatalities in rural areas in January 2020 compared to January 2019 (an increase not observed in urban areas). On the other hand, fatalities are stable on motorways.
Development of the number of users fatalities cumulated on a rolling 12 months
The health crisis has profoundly affected travel since March 2020, for all users, but to varying degrees according to the alternation of restrictions and authorized movements.
Car users usually account for half of all road deaths. Their fatalities over the past 12 months are estimated at 1,172 compared with 1,622 for the whole of 2019, a drop of 28% over a little over a year.
Pedestrians fatalities also fell sharply over this period: an estimated 369 pedestrians died in the last 12 months compared with 483 for the whole of 2019, a drop of -24%.
These very sharp declines are to be put in relation with the sharp drop in fatalities among seniors aged 65 or over, particularly those aged 75 or over, who have severely restricted their movements during confinements and curfew periods, but have also probably gone on much less vacations. Seniors account for half of all pedestrian fatalities and more than a quarter of all car users fatalities each year.
The fatalities of powered two-wheeler users are also declining: the drop among motorcyclists is -21%, with 487 killed in the last 12 months compared with 615 killed in 2019, with a slight increase in January 2021. On the other hand, the drop in moped fatalities is particularly marked and continues, -34% compared to 2019, with 89 moped fatalities in the last 12 months compared to 134 in 2019; a drop that undoubtedly reflects the measures that have curbed mobility among young people (distance learning, curfews).
Fatalities among young adults aged 18-24, at high risk of serious road accidents, have decreased by 22% in the last 12 months compared to 2019 (430 killed compared to 545 in 2019).
Compared to other trends, cyclists fatalities have declined slightly: 178 cyclists or users of personal motorized transport devices were killed in the last 12 months, a decrease of 10% compared to 2019. While travel has been limited by measures related to the health crisis, the French have shown a craze for using individual modes of transport on short trips rather than public transport in cities, but have also developed bicycle recreation in rural areas.
Finally, fatalities of heavy goods vehicle users are stable, as maintaining their activity remains essential for the daily life of French people and companies. However, it has been reduced by almost half in 10 years.
In January 2021, the road safety indicators for french overseas were higher than those of January 2020:
- 249 injury accidents compared with 216 accidents ;
- 330 injured compared with 280 injured ;
- 22 fatalities compared with 16 fatalities.