Expert Blog

Road casualty statistics: An update

20160811_Road casualty statistics: An update

Our recent road safety survey cited the Government’s road casualty statistics for 2014. As we explained in a subsequent post, these showed a small rise in road casualties that year, the first such annual increase since 1997.

Well, we can now update our analysis to include the newly released figures for 2015. These make slightly happier reading than those for 2014. The number of people killed on Britain’s roads fell by 2.4 per cent, from 1,775 in 2014 to 1,732 in 2015. The number who were seriously injured fell by 2.9 per cent. The number who were slightly injured fell by 4.4 per cent.

The graph below – an updated version of our previous one – shows the trend going back to 1990. Once again, the large grey area shows the number ‘slightly injured’, the black area shows those ‘seriously injured’, and the red area shows the number killed.

As you can see, despite the falls in 2015, the casualty figures remained higher than they were in 2013. After the progress of the last decade, when roads got safer and casualties fell dramatically, improvements seem to have stalled in more recent years. As the Department for Transport says in its report:

‘It now appears that fatality numbers are fluctuating around the 1,700 to 1,800 mark and only one of the last five years has had a statistically significant change. The most likely conclusion to this is that there is no trend in road fatalities on British roads at the moment and things are getting neither better nor worse.’

The fact that things probably aren’t getting worse is welcome news – especially after the concerns raised by last year’s increase. And the flat trend in the number of deaths does in fact represent a reduction in the fatality rate, as the amount of traffic on Britain’s roads has increased. For every billion miles driven, there were 5.5 deaths and 582 injuries in 2015, down from 5.6 deaths and 599 injuries in 2013.

However, the overall slowdown in improvement is certainly cause for concern. 1,732 deaths is 1,732 too many. Making our roads safer and reducing that number must be a priority for new Transport Secretary Chris Grayling and his team.

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