Britain's safer roads

by OldRidgeback   June 26, 2014  

There has been a lot of discussion about how bad things are on the UK's roads and I've commented frequently how they are actually a lot better than they used to be:

IAM comment on 2013 road casualty statistics
The latest Department for Transport road casualty statistics released today show a decrease by 2 per cent compared with 2012. This is the lowest figure since national records began in 1926.1
• In 2013, 1,713 people were killed in road accidents, the lowest number on record, and half as many as in 2000.
• In 2013, 21,657 people were seriously injured in road accidents.
• The total number of casualties of all severities in 2013 was 183,670.
• Car occupant fatalities in 2013 decreased to 785, down 2 per cent compared with 2012 and 44 per cent compared with the 2005-2009 average.
• There were 398 pedestrian deaths, 5 per cent fewer than in 2012.
• The number of pedal cyclists killed decreased by 8 per cent from 118 in 2012 to 109 in 2013.
• The number of motorcycle users killed increased by 1 per cent from 328 in 2012 to 331 in 2013, the first increase since 2006.
• The number of people killed on motorways increased by 14 per cent to 100 in 2013, the first increase since 2005, Seriously injured casualties also increased by 1 per cent to 660, the first increase since 2007,
IAM director of policy and research Neil Greig said: “The IAM welcomes the overall decrease in road deaths in 2013 which maintains the recent downward trends despite our roads getting a little busier as the economy picks up upward. We are however still killing nearly five people every day.”
“It is worrying that motorways have seen a 14 per cent increase in deaths which is only partly explained by a 1.5 per cent increase in traffic on them. It is vital that the government keeps a close eye on these figures as the Highway Agency rolls out its programme of widespread hard shoulder running as opposed to proper motorway widening.”
“The problem of death and serious injury among motorcycle riders remains and the IAM want to see more use of training opportunities and partnerships to improve both skills and attitudes.”

8 user comments

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Interesting stats, I love a bit of data.

I think a lot of the comments are naturally driven by an individuals experience, and the roads do vary quite a lot from one area to another and time of day. I find my roads in SW London fairly safe, and riding during the day or the weekend most of the drivers are OK.

However, that can change dramatically at certain times of day, and the centre of London (zone 1&2) is just bonkers.

The final problem is frustration that the law is such an ass at dealing with the worst example of driver aggression. I had an incident yesterday where a driver overtook me in Richmond Park when there was no space in front of me, less than a car length between me and the vehicle in front so I had to break or get pushed off the road. How does the law protect me against incidents like this?

Well, I'm sure you'll remember the recent news story on road.cc about the driver who aimed his car at a cyclist in the same park, and received nothing more than a fine and points. That's a big problem that has to be addressed, that using a car to assault someone has a special status in law rather than be treated as any other assault. The law should be very clear in discriminating assault for what it is, rather than a road traffic offence, or an accident statistic.

posted by bikebot [789 posts]
26th June 2014 - 10:45

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First thing from these stats, is that in general they don't show the increase or decrease in overall share. If I recall the %age of people cycling declined slightly over the last decade. So it's very hard to put into context.

The second thing is that although deaths have decreased, the number of cyclists seriously injured has increased quit dramatically. I wonder if this is down to improved emergency care, both at the roadside, and back in the ED. Regardless that is a very worrying trend, and much more important that a few less people being killed.

The third thing is that obviously there is nothing recording "near misses" etc from drivers who are ignorant/impatient/mad and putting cyclists at risk. Over the last couple of years, just from a personal perspective, I seem to be getting more consideration from most drivers. There is still a hardcore of nutjobs though.

The country needs to sit up and treat bad driving much more seriously than it does currently. That will benefit all not just cyclists

posted by gazza_d [273 posts]
26th June 2014 - 11:52

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gazza_d wrote:

The third thing is that obviously there is nothing recording "near misses" etc from drivers who are ignorant/impatient/mad and putting cyclists at risk.

From experience, I have been hit by a car a couple of times, once in reported to Glos Police and not interested, if I was hospitalised or hit and run police respond, second occasion reported to West Mercia exactly the same response.

It may just be these two cases, but it suggests the police, and I guess policy makers don't actually have a clue how many accidents actually happen.

As an aside contacted Worcestershire council because the second incident was partly due to a crap cyclepath/road interface and the council couldn't give a shit.

I also wonder if things are safer, or simply pedestrians and cyclists have been cowed by the car lobby and simply forced out of the way so it seems safer in the stats. I am sure I can cut injuries to cyclists by banning cycling....

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1365 posts]
26th June 2014 - 12:18

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gazza_d wrote:

The third thing is that obviously there is nothing recording "near misses" etc from drivers who are ignorant/impatient/mad and putting cyclists at risk. Over the last couple of years, just from a personal perspective, I seem to be getting more consideration from most drivers. There is still a hardcore of nutjobs though.

I strongly support the position that we should have a minimum passing distance law. The US has the 3 foot campaign, now law in many states and some European countries have laws from 1 to 1.5m.

First it makes the position very clear to drivers, UK law is horribly ambiguous on the matter. Second the Police would be obliged to record such incidents when a complaint is made, whether they then prosecute or not. That data would draw attention to the severity of the problem on particular roads, and bring the worst drivers to the attention of the Police if individuals receive multiple complaints from separate incidents.

posted by bikebot [789 posts]
26th June 2014 - 12:42

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I would like to think these statistics mean roads are safer, but since 2000 things like airbags, stronger safety cells for car occupants are normal for all cars on the road. This does not mean roads are safer just that people are more likely to survive, then we have air ambulances and improved emergency care.
So how do you define safer?

posted by SideBurn [873 posts]
26th June 2014 - 12:58

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I tend to agree that there are nutters on the road who need to be penalised more heavily. Some people are just rubbish behind the wheel. I took my motorbike to work this morning and was driving at 20mph down the street where I live when I realised I was being tailgated by a VW Passat. The street has big speed bumps that will knacker your suspension if you drive faster than 20mph but all the same, the VW driver was trying to squeeze past (it's narrow too, with cars parked on either side). I pulled over and let the car past and it roared away. Of course I overtook it again at the set of lights round the corner as the car queued with all the others and I filtered to the front.

People in cars frequently fail to understand that the cyclist (or in this case motorcyclist) they expend so much effort overtaking will very often filter past them at the next junction. They also fail to understand that it's the cars in front of them at each junction that lengthen their journey time, not the cyclist they have to wait to overtake.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2308 posts]
26th June 2014 - 13:14

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SideBurn wrote:
I would like to think these statistics mean roads are safer, but since 2000 things like airbags, stronger safety cells for car occupants are normal for all cars on the road. This does not mean roads are safer just that people are more likely to survive, then we have air ambulances and improved emergency care.
So how do you define safer?

By safer I mean a reduction in the total number of crashes. That hasn't come about just from improved in-vehicle safety.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2308 posts]
26th June 2014 - 13:16

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OldRidgeback wrote:

By safer I mean a reduction in the total number of crashes. That hasn't come about just from improved in-vehicle safety.

Which then comes back to my point about the police not recording accidents. Are the roads safer or are cars more crash proof, do we have more minor shunts? The police only care if someone is injured or the road is shut, a couple of cars/car & cyclist having a "minor" shunt, in their own words "we don't care that is an insurance problem not ours".

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1365 posts]
26th June 2014 - 14:00

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