Road death figures increase by 3%


Peter Woodman
Thursday 28 June 2012 13:47

The number of people killed on the roads rose last year for the first time since 2003.

There were 1,901 people killed in British road accidents reported to the police - a 3% increase on 2010.

The number of deaths and serious injuries last year reached 25,023 - 2% up on 2010 and the first increase in those killed or seriously injured (KSI) since 1994.

Safety groups and motoring organisation expressed disappointment at the figures.

The total number of casualties (slight injuries, serious injuries and deaths) was down, dipping 2% to 203,950 last year.

Total reported child casualties (ages 0-15) continued to fall last year, going down 0.5% to 19,474. The number of child KSIs fell 4% to 2,412.

The number of car occupant deaths last year rose 6% to 883. Total casualties (deaths, serious injuries and slight injuries) among car users reached 124,924 - 7% fewer than in 2010.

Car and taxi traffic increased slightly - by 0.2% - between 2010 and 2011.

There were 453 pedestrian deaths last year - 12% more than in 2010. Seriously injured pedestrian casualties also increased - by 5% to 5,454.

The number of pedal cyclists killed fell from 111 in 2010 to 107 in 2011. Pedal cyclist serious injuries were up 16% and total pedal cycle casualties rose 12%.

There were 362 motorcycle users killed in 2011 - a 10% decrease compared with 2010. But serious injuries were up 10% and total casualties among motorcyclists rose 8%.

The Department for Transport document outlining the casualty statistcs today said: "Adverse weather (heavy snowfalls) experienced in the first and last quarters of 2010 but not in 2011 are likely to be a factor in the increase in serious road casualties and fatalities recorded in 2011."

Transport Secretary Justine Greening, speaking in the House of Commons, said today: "We had some exceptional weather in that period and that was one of the reasons why there was such a change (in the casualty figures)."

She said the Government was committed to improving road safety, adding: "As far as I am concerned, one accident is too many. We are obviously concerned to make sure we improve our road safety record."

Shadow transport minister Jim Fitzpatrick urged her to bring back targets, which were abolished under the last transport secretary, Tory Philip Hammond.

Mr Fitzpatrick said: "Road casualty reduction targets commanded cross-party support for nearly three decades and played a big part in sending a strong message from Government about how committed it was to reducing deaths and serious injuries on the road.

"Those targets were scrapped by your predecessor."

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "These figures are sobering. We have got used to falling numbers of deaths on the roads, but this shows casualty reduction is not a one-way street.

"It is notable that car drivers and passengers make up less than half of those killed, with pedestrians in particular also paying a heavy price in terms of lives lost. Worryingly, the number of people on foot who have died increased by 12% in 2011.

"We need to know why this is; is it due to more and more people being distracted by using mobile phones and listening to music?

"Most of these deaths will have been on urban roads managed by local authorities, the same local authorities for whom central government has removed casualty reduction targets and slashed road safety budgets. The concern is that there is a direct link between these factors."

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: "After a long period of deaths falling year on year, we are very disturbed that they have risen, particularly among children and pedestrians.

"We are concerned that this may be the end of the downwards trend in people being killed on our roads because this is the first time that annual road deaths have risen since 2003 and follows three years where deaths reduced by several hundred per year.

"We are also concerned that reduced public spending on road safety, especially cuts to local authority and road policing budgets, may be partly to blame.

"The Government and the road safety profession need to urgently get together to understand why road deaths have now started to rise.

"It is crucial that the Government demonstrates strong leadership by examining what more it can do to help local authorities, the police and other bodies involved in road safety to refocus and reinvigorate their services.

"One of the ways they could do this is through the changes to public health in England, which provide an opportunity to encourage local action.

"However, national leadership of this area is crucial because the experience of the last three decades shows how effective a strong, comprehensive national road safety strategy can be in saving lives and reducing injuries."

Deputy Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, head of roads policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said: "The rise in the number of those killed or seriously injured on our roads is disappointing. Each death has a tragic effect on the family involved, with every death being a death too many.

"There is always work that can be done to make our roads safer.

"Acpo is looking to build on the approach already in place to continue to work with partners to use enforcement based on the professional judgment and discretion of police officers.

"We will focus on an intelligence-led approach to ensure appropriate enforcement, education and engineering which all help to influence driver behaviour, and help to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads.

"It should be remembered that the UK's roads continue to be amongst the safest in Europe. A recent report by the European Transport Safety Council states that the UK is the safest EU country for road use."

AA head of road safety Andrew Howard said: "It may well be that the weather in 2010 did make that year's figures look good. But we also have to suspect that the price of fuel throughout 2011 is all that has prevented road casualties for 2011 being much, much higher than in 2010.

"The Government must take this into account in deciding the resources to devote to road safety and must not allow complacency to set in.

"The rise in pedestrian deaths and cycle casualties continues to be a major cause for concern. We all need to do more to reduce road deaths and should aim for five-star drivers, in five-star cars on five-star roads."

Robert Gifford, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Committee for Transport Safety, said: "These are extremely disappointing results after two years - 2009 and 2010 - of substantial falls in deaths and injuries. They are a demonstration of the concern that all of us have expressed about the lack of leadership, priority and resources given to road safety by the current Government.

"For deaths to begin to rise at a time of recession should be a matter of concern to the Government."

He went on: "Ministers should see these figures as a wake-up call to review the impact of the Strategic Framework published in May 2011 on the provision of road safety at a local level and on the priority given to roads policing.

"They should now enter a genuine dialogue with the profession about a vision for road safety for the next decade. Road deaths and injuries are preventable and we have a moral responsibility to act where we know that measures can be taken."


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