According to new statistics from the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT), there was a rise in the number of people killed on the country’s roads last year, and several transport and safety organizations are calling for action.
The DfT figures show that 1,792 people were killed in collisions last year, up 4% since 2015 and the highest annual total since 2011. A further 24,101 people were seriously injured in 2016, 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.
Many of the fatalities involved vulnerable road users, with pedestrian deaths up by 10% to 448, compared to 2015, and cyclist deaths up by 2% to 102. The number of children killed is also up by 28% from 2015, with 69 under-15s dying in 2016. However, the number of motorcyclists killed is down by 13% from 365 to 319, despite an increase in the amount of motorcycle traffic.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents’ (RoSPA) road safety manager, Nick Lloyd, 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. More than 90% of road crashes involve human error, which demonstrates the need for drivers to concentrate at all times, watch their speed, and avoid distractions.”
The Transport Research Laboratory’s (TRL) academy director, Richard Cuerden, commented, “The increase in road casualties reinforces the need for the establishment of a UK Road Collision Investigation Branch to gather and make available better data to provide the evidence base to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on our roads. It is imperative that road safety is given the same level of attention as that of air and rail. It is essential that future casualty prevention strategies are informed by latest trends, such as the digital revolution and rapid development of vehicle technologies, change in mobility habits, and the rise in active travel. Only this way can we ensure that casualty prevention strategies are not only fit for purpose, but future-proofed too.”
Jason Wakeford, director of campaigns for the Brake road safety charity, noted, “Progress on road safety has stalled, pressing the need for a road collision investigation branch, so that lessons can be learned to prevent future crashes. We are calling for: the introduction of a graduated licensing system, including a minimum learning period and restrictions for newly qualified drivers; a review of speed limits on rural roads, where most deaths occur; and for ‘Voluntary Intelligent Speed Adaptation’ to be fitted as standard to new cars, as part of proposals being considered by the European Commission.”