The one reason why UK ranks as one of Europe’s least safest nations to ride

UK is ranked as only the 18th safest country in Europe to drive... primarily because it has highest legal blood alcohol concentration level in the world

Riding a Motorcycle among cars in UK

The United Kingdom has once again been ranked as one of Europe’s least safest countries in which to drive or ride… primarily because of data that reveals UK has one of the highest legal limits for drivers to have alcohol in their blood

In a new study compiled by Zutobi - which compiles an annual ranking of the safest and most dangerous countries in the world to drive - the UK was listed 18th out of 29 European countries measured. It fared better on a global scale, however, ranking 23rd out of 53.

The study is based on data across five key areas - estimated RTA (road traffic accident) deaths per 100,000 population, the maximum speed limit in each nation, the seat-belt wearing rate, road traffic deaths attributed to alcohol and the BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) permitted for drivers. 

For the most part the UK scores well in four of the five areas with a better than average estimated 3.2 deaths recorded over 12 months per 100,000 drivers and has one of the world’s strictest maximum speed limits. The seat belt wearing rate is also comparable to other European nations.

So why does the UK rank lower than many of its European counterparts? Well, with a 0.8g/dl BAC permitted as the legal limit over here is substantially higher than that of nearly every other nation analysed.

In fact, it ties with the United States, Malaysia and Guyana as having the highest legal limit in the world. By comparison, no other nation ranking ahead of the UK permits a higher BAC than 0.5g/dl, while all but two of the nations ranked inside the top ten allow more than 0.3g/dl.

Ironically, despite the higher limit, the UK has fewer on average alcohol related driver deaths than many nations ahead of it, including Iceland, which ranked overall as the second safest nation in which to drive.

It serves to pin the UK’s overall safety rating at 6.71, an improvement on last year by a modest 0.2,  but comfortably in the bottom half of the European nations measured.

At the top of the table, Norway held its spot as the safest nation in the world in which to drive, underpinned by it having just 2.1 estimated road traffic death rate per 100,000 people. Only Iceland has a better score in this area with 2.0 deaths per 100,000 people.

Estonia rose the rankings to be classified in third position, ahead of Japan in fourth, one of only two non-European nations featuring in the top ten along with Israel in seventh. Moldova rounded out the top five, with Hungary - which has a zero tolerance BAC level - in sixth.

At the bottom end of the table, South Africa was considered the most dangerous country to drive, followed by Thailand, United States, Argentina and India. Worryingly for the latter, India saw a 50% increase in estimated road traffic accident death rate over the past 12 months.

However, overall there was a decrease in estimated road traffic accident deaths globally, with an average of 9.7 deaths per 100,000 population down from 11 in 2021.

Check out the full ranking on Zutobi HERE