Which country has the safest roads in the world?
Whether you are buying a car outright, getting a car subscription, or renting a vehicle, one of the biggest things to consider is how safe it is to drive. However, something that is out of your control is the safety of the roads your vehicle will travel on.
Road safety levels differ greatly across the world, thanks to many factors, such as driver quality, road quality, laws, and speed limits. But where are the safest roads in the world, and which country's roads should you be wary of?
We have taken a deep dive into the data relating to numerous road safety-related factors to reveal the nations with the safest and most dangerous roads.
Road safety score of 7.86/10:
The safest roads in the world can be found in the Netherlands, with the small nation in northern Europe achieving a score of 7.86/10. The quality of roads in the Netherlands was higher than any other nation studied, with a score of 6.4. The country also has one of the highest percentages of seatbelt wearers and the lowest traffic levels, too. The Netherlands is the country with the highest proportion of cyclists in the world, with one bike per person, As a result of the country’s famous cycling culture, there are fewer drivers on the road.
Road safety score of 7.47/10:
Norway has the second safest roads in the world. The Nordic country has the second-fewest road deaths per 100,000 people and also has the second-lowest motorway speed limit at just 110 kph. As icey temperatures (particularly in the north of the country) can lead to treacherous conditions on Norwegian roads, the country’s high safety score is an even bigger achievement.
Road safety score of 7.42/10:
Sweden and Estonia are separated by just 153km of the Baltic Sea at its shortest point, and they are equally close on this list, both scoring 7.42/10 and sharing third place. However, the two countries excelled in different aspects of safety. Sweden had very few road deaths and a high seatbelt-wearing percentage, whereas Estonia had a low traffic level and a low percentage of road deaths attributed to alcohol.
Road safety score of 1.65/10:
The most dangerous roads in the world are found in the South American country of Argentina, with an overall score of just 1.65/10. Many factors contributed to this low score, including a seatbelt-wearing percentage of just 43.6%. In addition, the road quality score was just 3.6, and the traffic level was 175.
Road safety score of 2.53/10:
Perhaps surprisingly, the USA has the second most dangerous roads of all the nations studied. 29% of all road traffic deaths in America are put down to alcohol, and their high maximum speed limits also contribute. Unlike many countries in the world, American drivers can take to the wheel in their mid-teenage years. As younger drivers with a lack of driving experience are often perceived to be more dangerous on the roads, this could play a factor.
Road safety score of 3.85/10:
Although Greece does not perform terribly in any aspect of road safety, the Mediterranean country scores poorly for a number of factors. Only 72% of Greeks wear a seatbelt and there are 8.31 road deaths per 100,000 people, resulting in a third-place ranking for the most dangerous roads of any nation studied.
2.05 road deaths per 100,000 people:
Iceland has the fewest road deaths, with just 2 per 100,000 people. Despite poor weather conditions and many unpaved roads, Icelandic drivers are some of the least likely in the world to face fatalities on the road. Iceland is a hub for tourism, consequently, many popular roads around the golden circle and Reykjavik are tarmacked and well-maintained compared to the sparsely populated centre of the country which is connected by a network of gravel roads.
2.12 road deaths per 100,000 people:
Norway has similar road issues to Iceland, mainly based on adverse winter weather conditions. Despite this, Norway’s roads also have the least number of reported deaths, as there are only 2.12 road deaths per 100,000 people. Scandinavian driving lessons and tests are notoriously thorough, and speeding fines are high, resulting in safer roads.
2.25 road deaths per 100,000 people:
Switzerland has the third-fewest road deaths per 100,000 people. Swiss driving laws are strictly enforced, and there is little tolerance for speeding and reckless driving. This no-nonsense attitude may have contributed to the low death rate. As a country situated in and around the Alps, Swiss roads have a reputation for spectacular views from winding mountain passes.
35.94 road deaths per 100,000 people:
Saudi Arabia has the highest number of road deaths per 100,000 people, which is 27 more than the average of 8.57. Saudi Arabia has large crude oil deposits, meaning petrol prices are very low. As a result, more people can afford to drive fast fuel-burning supercars which can be less safe than common cars due to factors such as poor visibility.
32.21 road deaths per 100,000 people:
Thailand has the second deadliest roads in the world, with 32 deaths per 100,000 people. Many Thai citizens ride motorcycles rather than drive cars, and it is common for many people to ride on motorbikes together. This, combined with a lack of helmets, can result in an increased likelihood of road deaths.
22.48 road deaths per 100,000 people:
Malaysia has the third-highest number of road deaths per 100,000 people. Despite this ranking, there is a substantial difference between Malaysia and Thailand, as the country has almost ten fewer deaths. Malaysia is the third Asian country in the top three countries with the most deadly roads, and half of the top ten are from the vast continent.
A list of countries was selected from OECD member states and developed nations with an HDI of over 8.
Any nation we could not find complete data for was removed.
Road deaths per 100,000 people were sourced from the World Health Organization.
The road quality score was sourced from The Global Economy.
The traffic level was sourced from Numbeo.
Speed limits per country were sourced from Wikipedia.
Each country was given a normalized score out of ten for each factor before an average of these scores was taken.