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From the internet to the street: the impact of e-commerce

22 February 2023

A study by VIAS has investigated the road safety impacts of parcel deliveries in Belgium.

The increased access to the internet has facilitated the trade of goods or services ordered online called e-commerce. E-commerce is a rapidly evolving sector. With 94% of Belgian inhabitants having access to the internet, 80%  of them are e-shoppers. Additionally, 7 in 10 Belgians shopped at least once to up to five times during the past three months from the survey conducted in 2021 by EUROSTAT1. Belgium is the 29th largest market in the world for e-commerce with a turnover of 11.7 billion euros in 2021. This is a 33% growth compared to the previous year (2020) showing the gradual and stable growth of this sector in Belgium2.

Despite the growth in the total vehicle fleet of vans (≤ 3.5 tonnes), the number of crashes in Belgium has dropped for all transport modes (-20%) and a similar decreasing trend was observed in the number of crashes with vans (-13.5%) between 2017 and 2020. However, the company-owned vans were involved in more road crashes with vulnerable road users than privately-owned vans, in particular, cyclists (16% vs. 12% of the number of victims in 2022). This value grew in recent years for cyclists (11% in 2017 vs. 16% in 2020) and remained almost the same (5% in both 2017 and 2020) for pedestrians, despite a sharp decline with most motorized vehicles.