Road fatalities reach four-year high

Image of Neil Thomason
Author: | Updated: 28 Sep 2017 13:49

There has been a rise in the number of people killed on roads in Great Britain, according to new government statistics.

There were a total of 181,384 casualties of all severities in 2016

Figures out today from the Department for Transport show that 1,792 people were killed in collisions last year, up 4% since 2015 and the highest annual total since 2011. However, this is down 44% as a whole over a ten-year period.

A total of 24,101 people were seriously injured last year - a rise of 9% (from 22,144 in 2015), which is being attributed by the government at least in part due to changes in the way many police forces now report collision data.

There were a total of 181,384 casualties of all severities in 2016, around 3% lower than 2015, the lowest level on record and down 30 percent as a whole over a ten-year period.

One piece of encouraging news in the Department for Transport figures is that the number of motorcyclists killed is down by 13% from 365 to 319. This is despite an increase in the amount of motorcycle traffic on the road, demonstrating that motorcycle safety messaging is having a positive effect.

Road Safety stats

What appears to be clear is that although cars are getting safer and there has been a change in new road investment, careless human behaviour and increasing traffic levels are cancelling this out.

As a result of these worrying statistics, IAM RoadSmart, the RAC and a coalition of road safety and motor industry bodies are encouraging private and fleet car buyers to insist on Autonomous Emergency Braking when they buy their next new car – a measure which could save hundreds of lives on our roads.

Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), which will be fitted as standard on new vehicles from the early 2020s, apply the brakes to avoid an impending crash with another vehicle, pedestrian or cyclist. It is estimated that pedestrian-and-cyclist-sensing AEB systems could potentially save 1,100 lives and 122,860 casualties in the UK over the next ten years.

Industry comments

Commenting on today's report, Nick Lloyd, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) road safety manager, said: “When there’s an increase in traffic with economic growth, generally casualty statistics do tend to go up, but this in no way justifies these shocking figures.

“Britain traditionally has one of the best road safety records in the world, but we must focus our efforts through effective education, engineering and enforcement if we are to make our roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists.”

Jason Wakeford, Director of Campaigns for Brake, the road safety charity, said:  "On average, five people continue to lose their lives each and every day - a deeply worrying figure which has not improved for some six years.

"Progress on road safety has stalled, pressing the need for a road collision investigation branch, similar to those already in existence for air, rail and sea, so that lessons can be learned to prevent future crashes.”

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “Road safety in the UK seems to be bumping along the floor with yet another year without improvement in key fatal and serious injury statistics.

“With six years without progress it is clear that we have an increasingly complex picture of good news such as safer cars and investment in new roads, being cancelled out by more traffic and a hard core of human behaviour issues that are the most difficult to tackle.

Peter Shaw, CEO Thatcham Research said: “There’s an urgent need to change the consumer and fleet mind-set around car safety. Especially when AEB can cost as little as £200. Safety should be a deal-breaker, not a nice thing to have. If it doesn't have AEB, it shouldn't be a sale.”

Richard Burnett, CEO of the Road Haulage Association said: "No matter how good a driver’s skills may be, the road network remains a dangerous place. Any measure that can be taken to reduce that danger and the subsequent reduction in the risk of accidents is an obvious solution to a long standing, and distressing problem.”

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