Road accidents are the leading cause of death for children and young adults aged 5-29 in Europe.
Some regions in Europe are more severely impacted than others. The Western Balkans—comprising Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia—experiences a much higher proportion of road crash-related deaths per million of inhabitants than the EU27. A staggering 1,171 road crash fatalities were recorded in the Western Balkans in 2020 alone.
That’s an enormous cost for communities to bear, not only socially and psychologically, but economically. In fact, road crashes in the Western Balkans have been estimated to cost between 2 to 4% of GDP, which seriously undermines the region’s growth prospects.
These losses—in lives, human capital, and infrastructure—are largely preventable. Improving road safety must therefore be a priority for the region’s development agenda. To design safer traffic patterns, implement policies that can cut down on road crash fatalities, and measure progress, the Western Balkans need access to better and more reliable data.
That’s why the World Bank is supporting initiatives to tackle the region’s road safety crisis, including the Western Balkans Road Safety Observatory (WBRSO). Established in July 2021 with the backing of the European Commission (EC), Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and the World Bank, WBRSO is part of a much wider effort worldwide to create formal networks of government representatives that share and exchange road safety data, reports, and best practices in order to reduce traffic injuries and deaths.