Croatian Roads about 60 Percent Deadlier than European Average

By 3 January 2017

Despite somewhat better statistics last year, roads in Croatia are still very dangerous.

According to still incomplete data, the fewest number of people died on Croatian roads in 2016. However, despite somewhat better statistics, transportation expert Željko Marušić claims that Croatia cannot be satisfied since Croatian roads were about 60 percent deadlier than the European average, reports on January 3, 2017.

During 2016, according to incomplete data, 304 people died in road accidents. If we take into account the fact that this is just a fifth of fatalities from the worst year in history, 1979, and as much as 54 percent less than in 2008, it would seem that we can be quite content, says Marušić. However, at the same time he warns that Croatia should not be satisfied with such results, since the rate of 72 fatalities per million inhabitants is based on official, but realistically incorrect population count due to mass emigration. According to Marušić, the real revised rate for 2016 would be around 78 deaths per million inhabitants.

“Another reason why we should not be satisfied is that, at the level of the European Union, it is expected that mortality will fall compared to 2015 by about five percent, to the rate of 48 deaths per million inhabitants”, says Marušić, warning that Croatian roads, just like in previous years, were about 60 percent deadlier than the European average, which makes Croatia one of two or three worst countries of the European Union.

Marušić says that the causes for the poor record of Croatian roads can be grouped into several categories, noting that his analysis shows that the proposed changes to the Law on Road Traffic Safety are part of a superficial and wrong approach to solving the problem. He believes that the whole transportation system in Croatia has been developed in a wrong way, mainly because in the last 25 years it has been managed by the Interior Ministry, instead of Transport Ministry, which alone can enable a systematic approach and convergence with EU standards.

The reason for poor safety situation on Croatian roads is also attributed to bad traffic habits, which is “mathematically proven” by the proportion of the most vulnerable groups of road users, such as pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcycle riders, in the total number of deaths on roads.

He adds that another problem is inefficient judiciary, which is confirmed by a series of cases of drivers who, after dozens of brutal violations of traffic rules, still have valid driving licenses, which “strikes at the core of national interests, pointing to existence of ‘fifth column’ in the judicial system”. The situation would be even worse without media and public pressure.

Other reasons for unsatisfactory traffic safety conditions are deficient regulations, the level of medical care provision after accidents, the average age of cars on Croatian roads which is higher than 13 years and five years higher than the European average, too expensive motorways and taxis, deficient and defective transport infrastructure, and insufficient use of electronic technology for traffic control, concludes Marušić.