Home
Road deaths drop to record low, cycling casualties slightly up, National Audit Office

Deaths on British roads reached a record low last year dropping from 2,946 people killed to 2,538, a 14 per cent reduction and a record low. According to Transport Minister, Lord Adonis these figures show that Britain now has the joint safest roads in the developed world.

The Department for Transport statistics released today show that In percentage terms cyclists and motorcyclists were the groups which showed the biggest percentage drop in the number of deaths – down 15 and 16 per cent respectively. The number of cyclists killed dropped from 136 in 2007 to 115 in 2008.

However, both the overall reported casualty figures for cyclists and the numbers reported seriously injured were both up 1 per cent on the previous year at 16,297 and 2,450 respectively. The corresponding figure for motorcyclists was down by 8 per cent to 21,549 for overall casualties and 10 per cent for those killed or seriously injured – 6,048.

The overall figure for reported pedestrian casualties was down 6 per cent to 28,481, 571 pedestrians were killed in 2008 an 11 per cent reduction on the previous year. Even though more children died on Britain's roads in 2008 the overall reported child casualty figures were down 8 per cent to 2,807 of which 1,784 were pedestrians.

In total there were 170,500 road accidents involving personal injury reported to the police last year with 25,457 of these involving death or serious injury.

Commenting on the figures Transport Secretary Lord Adonis said: "Every death on the roads is a terrible tragedy, but these figures show that every day last year one less person died on the roads than in 2007 and that Britain now jointly has the safest roads of any major nation in the world.

"While this news is encouraging, seven people are still dying on the roads every day and we will continue to do everything we can to prevent these tragedies."

The figures for 2008 mean that the Government has met the 10 year target it set itself in 2000 for reducing death and serious injury on Britain's roads ahead of schedule. Three key targets were set:

  • 40% reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured in road accidents compared with the average for 1994-98;
  • 50% reduction in the number of children killed or seriously injured;
  • 10% reduction in the slight casualty rate, expressed as the number of people slightly injured per 100 million vehicle kilometres.

According to the DfT figures released today n 2008, the number of people killed or seriously injured was 40 per cent below the 1994-98 average; the number of children killed or seriously injured was 59 per cent below the 1994-98 average; and provisional estimates show the slight casualty rate was 36 per cent below the 1994-98 average.

However, the Government's record on road safety is not blemish free. Earlier this year the Government was taken to task by the Audit Commission in its report 'Improving road safety for pedestrians and cyclists in Great Britain' which pointed out that while the overall casualty figures amongst road users were going down those for more vulnerable road users: children, pedestrians, and cyclists were not falling at anything like the same rate as for motorists and that vulnerable road users were as a result being let down.

Recently the European Road Assessment Programme rated over half of Britain's A roads as either neutral for safety or poor while The Campaign for Safe Road Design claims that 10,000 deaths or serious injuries could be prevented over 10 years with better road marking, signage and different designs for kerbs and street furniture.

Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.

6 comments

Avatar
cat1commuter [1421 posts] 7 years ago
0 likes

This sentence doesn't scan:

Quote:

According to Transport Minister, Lord Adonis Britian these figures show that Britain now has the joing safest roads in the developed world.

Avatar
cat1commuter [1421 posts] 7 years ago
0 likes

This doesn't make sense either:

Quote:

The overall figure for reported pedestrian casualties was down 6 per cent to 28, 481, 571 pedestrians were killed in 2008 an 11 per cent reduction on the previous year.

Avatar
OldRidgeback [2662 posts] 7 years ago
0 likes

This doesn't make sense either:

Quote:
The overall figure for reported pedestrian casualties was down 6 per cent to 28, 481, 571 pedestrians were killed in 2008 an 11 per cent reduction on the previous year.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

It does make sense - if you think about it. Pedestrian casualties includes those injured and were down 6% in total. Pedestrian fatalities were down 11%. That's what it means and I know because I deal with DfT statistics for my job, so I know how poorly explained they can be.

Avatar
Tony Farrelly [2871 posts] 7 years ago
0 likes

Yes, it is confusing on first sight - having done a few stories on the road casualty stats over the years I've learnt to read them and then re-read them, and not to jump to any conclusions. The percentage change for deaths on the roads in most categories can change quite markedly from year to year because although they are still too many they are actually a very small proportion of the total numbers of road casualties + the DfT has more than one category of casualty - seriously injured or lightly injured. Thankfully these days the latter group is the largest amongst most road users.

What can initially be confusing is that in the summary report the authors pick out what they think are the most significant figures, but these don't always directly correlate between different types of road user: so for one group they might talk about deaths, and serious injurues as separate headings but for another give figures for deaths, and then a combined figure for deaths and serious injuries. 'Deaths' and 'Serious injury' were separated in the cycling category presumably because against the trend one went up and the other down.

Hats off oldridgeback if you deal with these stats for a living - I'm just working my way through the report on Traffic Speeds and Congestion for 2008 and I already feel the need for strong coffee.

Avatar
OldRidgeback [2662 posts] 7 years ago
0 likes

Tony - I report on the DfT stats as one of the many parts of my job. A reader of the business magazine I edit has slammed the DfT's report on speeds and congestion incidentally. The reader is a professional in the road industry and knows what he's talking about. If you trust his words (and I do) the DfT's report can be taken with an extremely large pinch of salt.

Avatar
Tony Farrelly [2871 posts] 7 years ago
0 likes

'Estimate' is the word they use in the traffic stats and given the methods of collection they use that is all these things can ever be… well until we've all got a chip in out car/bike/van/head telling them where we are at every minute of the day.

Certainly I know that people on the the cycling side of things have alway taken the cycling stats with a large pinch of salt because they fetl that the methods used to collect them were almost bound to lead to under counting. I hear there are also serious qualms about the National Travel Survey when it comes to counting short journeys in particular - popping down to the corner shop, that sort of thing.

On the other hand I think the casualty stats are probably pretty spot on - certainly when it comes to the more serious end of things.