BERN, SWITZERLAND – Road accidents were responsible for 1 percent of deaths in Switzerland in 2009, new figures from the Swiss Council for Accident Prevention, but the relatively low rate hides a more startling statistic: each of the 300-plus deaths a year costs, on average, more than 25 years of life because a high proportion of road deaths are young people.
Put another way: in 2009 (most recent year for the figures) Switzerland lost 180,000 years of life to premature deaths, those who die between the first and 70th year of life.
Of these, 5 percent are due to road accidents.
Young men are injured twice as often as young women and the rate of death for young men is three times as high.
The 2011 figures published this week show that Swiss road accidents led to:
- 320 deaths (of which 99 were caused by speeding) and 4,437 serious injuries
- some 90,000 injuries in total
- 8,000 people hospitalized for at least one week after road accidents
- material damage of more than CHF5 billion a year
- some 500 people remain partially or totally handicapped.
Another startling figure is that police statistics, which serve as the basis for road accident numbers, cover only about 30 percent of all accidents with injuries, since those who receive slight injuries often don’t report the accidents to the police.
Overall, one in eight persons is injured annually in a non-professional accident, with more than half of those at home or doing hobbies, 610,000 people. Another 315,000 are injured in sports accidents and 90,000 in road accidents.
Cars: getting better, bicycles: worse
The number of serious injuries and deaths from car accidents continues to fall, but cyclists are worse off. In 2001 the number of serious accidents involving cyclists was 14 percent but by 2011 the figure had climbed to 19 percent.
Statistics show steady improvement in the impact of car accidents, with the best figures linked to autoroutes, now considered by the safety council to be the safest roads in Switzerland.
Full report and statistics, bfu 2011 road safety, in French