Drive Smart
If you are hiring a car in a different country, you should consider how safe the roads are where you are driving before you arrive.



We look at the safest roads in the world and look at data from 2016 compared to 2013 to see which countries have the safest roads in the world and those that have made the biggest improvemnts.

Safest Roads in the World

We reveal the safest roads in the world by deaths on the roads in 2016 v 2013 by total number and population

An accolade that any country would be proud of, to have the safest roads in the world with the fewest number of road deaths is something that all nations are striving towards. And it’s not only governments targeting reducing road deaths, Swedish car maker Volvo has boldly claimed that nobody, not a single person, should be severely injured or killed in a new Volvo car by 2020. However, there are billions of miles covered on the planet and billions of people using the roads where sadly fatalities are a fact of life. We look at which countries have the lowest number of recorded road deaths in 2016 compared to 2013 and a more representative figure of the number of deaths per 100,000 population.  The good news is that if you’re heading to San Marino, it’s very safe and not a single person died on the roads in 2016, although with only 220km of highways in the entire country it’s easy to see why. Our range of Drive Smart guides are designed to tell you all you need to know to stay safe when driving in a different country.

safest roads in the world
Heatmap showing roads deaths by country and roads deaths by country by population
safest roads in the worldsafest roads in world by population

Safest Roads by Country – Road Deaths

Unsurprisingly, some countries report very low (if any) roads deaths and we see the list of the safest roads by total number of road deaths in countries with very low populations. The chances of dying on the roads of a country with few roads and/or citizens are obviously low. Whilst all very low number of deaths, the % change paints an interesting picture. Whilst only 22 road deaths were reported in Iceland in 2016, that represents a 47% increase on 2013 where only 15 fatalities were recorded. One of the most impressive statistics here is Cyprus, with a population of 1.2 million, only 60 fatalities were reported (see more on road safety in Cyprus here).
 

Lowest Road Deaths by Total Volume by Country - 2016

Country
Population (million)
Income
Road Deaths 2013
Road Deaths 2016
% Change
San Marino
0
High
1
0
-100%
Cook Islands
0
High
5
3
-40%
Maldives
0.4
Middle
12
4
-67%
Kiribati
0.1
Middle
3
5
67%
Antigua and Barbuda
0.1
High
6
8
33%
Dominica
0.1
Middle
11
8
-27%
Seychelles
0.1
High
8
15
88%
Barbados
0.3
High
19
16
-16%
Tonga
0.1
Middle
8
18
125%
Iceland
0.3
High
15
22
47%
Samoa
0.2
Middle
30
22
-27%
Malta
0.4
High
22
26
18%
Luxembourg
0.6
High
46
36
-22%
Vanuatu
0.3
Middle
42
43
2%
Sao Tome and Principe
0.2
Middle
60
55
-8%
Cyprus
1.2
High
59
60
2%
Saint Lucia
0.2
Middle
33
63
91%
Montenegro
0.6
Middle
74
67
-9%
Estonia
1.3
High
90
80
-11%

Safest Roads in the World by Population

A much more representative dataset comes from the number of deaths on the roads when related to the population of a country. When you take into account the population and quantify road deaths per 100,000 of the population you get a much clearer picture of how safe the roads are in a given country. Whilst San Marino and the Maldives still top the list, their low populations aid this. It’s fair to say that some of the safest roads in the world can be found in Norway, Switzerland, Singapore, Sweden and the UK. All have populations in excess of 5 million and reported less than 3 deaths per 100,000 population in 2016 (UK 3.1). And of these, the UK has by far the highest population at 65.8 million compared to Sweden’s 9.8, making, what we consider, the UK to have the safest roads in the world. Although it was an even better record in 2013 where just 2.8 people per 100,000 died on the roads.

Lowest Road Deaths by Population by Country - 2016

Country
Population (million)
Income
Road Deaths 2013 per 100k population
Road Deaths 2016 per 100k population
% Change

San Marino
0
High
3
0
-100%
Maldives
0.4
Middle
2.8
0.9
-68%
Norway
5.3
High
3.7
2.7
-27%
Switzerland
8.4
High
3.2
2.7
-16%
Singapore
5.6
High
3.5
2.8
-20%
Sweden
9.8
High
2.8
2.8
0%
UK
65.8
High
2.8
3.1
11%
Netherlands
17
High
3.4
3.8
12%
Denmark
5.7
High
3.4
4
18%
Ireland
4.7
High
4
4.1
2%
Spain
46.3
High
3.7
4.1
11%
Germany
81.9
High
4.3
4.1
-5%
Japan
127.7
High
4.5
4.1
-9%
Israel
8.2
High
3.4
4.2
24%
Kiribati
0.1
Middle
2.6
4.4
69%
Finland
5.5
High
4.7
4.7
0%
Cyprus
1.2
High
5
5.1
2%
Austria
8.7
High
5.2
5.2
0%
France
64.7
High
5
5.5
10%
Barbados
0.3
High
6.7
5.6
-16%
Australia
24.1
High
5.2
5.6
8%


Most Improved Road Death Record by Country

Whilst we think the UK has the safest roads in the world taking into account many factors, it actually recorded 11% MORE deaths in 2016 compared to 2013, suggesting the situation is getting worse. Here we look at those countries making the most progress when it comes to road safety. Libya saw a 64% reduction in road deaths from 2013 to 2016, given its population of 6.3 million, that’s great progress. The correlation between a countries income and it’s road safety record is again stark, where the countries with the most improvement in road safety are from high and middle income countries further supporting the case that countries that can afford to invest in better infrastructure do make their roads safer and reduce deaths on the roads.
 
Country
Population (million)
Income
Road Deaths 2013 per 100k population
Road Deaths 2016 per 100k population
% Change
San Marino
0
High
3
0
-100%
Maldives
0.4
Middle
2.8
0.9
-68%
Libya
6.3
Middle
72.4
26.1
-64%
Cook Islands
0
High
28.8
17.3
-40%
Belarus
9.5
Middle
13.5
8.9
-34%
Iran
80.3
Middle
31
20.5
-34%
Macedonia
2.1
Middle
9.5
6.4
-33%
Bolivia
10.9
Middle
22.7
15.5
-32%
Qatar
2.6
High
12.8
9.3
-27%
Dominica
0.1
Middle
15
10.9
-27%
Lithuania
2.9
High
11
8
-27%
Norway
5.3
High
3.7
2.7
-27%
Samoa
0.2
Middle
15.4
11.3
-27%
Kyrgyzstan
6
Middle
20.5
15.4
-25%
Oman
4.4
High
20.9
16.1
-23%
Luxembourg
0.6
High
8
6.3
-21%
Suriname
0.6
Middle
18.4
14.5
-21%
Kazakhstan
18
Middle
22.1
17.6
-20%
Singapore
5.6
High
3.5
2.8
-20%
Uruguay
3.4
High
16.5
13.4
-19%
Bosnia and Herzegovina
3.5
Middle
19.2
15.7
-18%
Eritrea
5
Low
30.8
25.3
-18%


Do Richer Countries Have Safer Roads?

There is no doubt that higher income countries have safer roads, supported by the fast that 19 out of the 20 safest countries to drive in the world are high income nations, the only exception to the rule being the Maldives which is designated a middle income nation. Not a single low income nation features on the list. The picture is just as bleak when looking at the most improved road safety records where again not single low income country feature in the top 20. The data suggests a direct correlation between how rich a country is and the safety of its roads and ultimately the number of road deaths recorded.

See all Road Death Data here;

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*Income based on Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is the US dollar value of a country’s final income in a year divided by its population using Atlas methodology. Data from World Development Indicators database, World Bank, November 2017.
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