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Planning a European Road Trip? The Safest and Most Dangerous Countries for Driving

The ease and affordability of train travel in Europe make a strong case for riding the rails to get around the continent as a tourist rather than renting a car.

Plus, trains are better for the environment and don’t require passengers to learn foreign traffic laws, find parking, calculate gasoline prices by the liter, or, horror of horrors, negotiate a roundabout

But if you have your heart set on experiencing the freedom and adventure of a European road trip, it might be a good idea to decide on driving destinations with help from new research based on data from the European Transport Safety Council

Published at, which specializes in providing info about Swiss toll roads as well as research on traffic and driving throughout Europe, the analysis uses stats on European traffic fatalities from 2012 to 2022 to rank the safest and most dangerous European countries for driving. (The nonprofit European Transport Safety Council will likely release figures for 2023 in June.)

According to the research, Norway is statistically Europe’s safest country for road trips, recording 21 traffic deaths per million inhabitants in 2022, a relatively low number that represents more than 26% fewer road fatalities than the country recorded 10 years before. (Norway’s Atlantic Ocean Road is pictured at the top of this page.)

The Scandinavian region as a whole performed well on the list, with Sweden coming in second (22 road fatalities) and Denmark in fourth (26). 

The five safest European countries to drive in:

1. Norway
2. Sweden
3. United Kingdom
4. Denmark
5. Switzerland

At the other end of the spectrum, the data analysis found that Romania is Europe’s most dangerous country for drivers, with 86 road deaths occurring in that southeastern European nation in 2022. Though that was the continent’s highest fatality rate for drivers, Romania’s number was more than 10% lower than 10 years before. 

Of the five most dangerous European countries for driving, four are in Central and Eastern Europe: Romania, Serbia (83 traffic fatalities per million inhabitants), Bulgaria (78), and Croatia (71). 

The fifth is Portugal (62), a place notorious for growing reckless drivers—though the country’s record has improved by nearly 9% since 2012. 

The five most dangerous European countries to drive in:

1. Romania
2. Serbia
3. Bulgaria
4. Croatia
5. Portugal

Mind you, even Europe’s worst offenders are significantly safer for drivers than the United States, which experienced more than 44,000 traffic fatalities in 2023. That comes out to about 133 deaths per million inhabitants—a rate almost 55% higher than in Europe’s most dangerous driving country, Romania. 

Too bad rail options in the U.S. are a lot more limited. 

Related: Europe’s best coastal drives