Is road safety deteriorating in the UK?
New figures from the Department of Transport have raised questions about the state of road safety in the UK and have suggested that car accident compensation claims could be on the rise.
The government has confirmed that the number of road fatalities in 2011 increased from 2010 levels.
Last year 1,901 people were killed in road accidents, an annual rise of three percent. What’s more, 23,122 people were seriously injured. This constitutes a two per cent increase since 2010.
A rising number of car occupants were also involved in accidents, with a fatality increase of six per cent on the previous year.
The figures revealed that pedestrians could be particularly at risk, as the number of deaths increased by 12 per cent.
However, there was some good news, as bus and coach fatalities dropped by 22 per cent, while motorcyclist and cyclists deaths fell by ten per cent and four per cent respectively.
At the heart of many accidents was a failure to adhere to basic principles of road safety. Neglecting to look properly was the most significant contributory factor to 42 per cent of all accidents.
Drink driving also played a role in rising fatality numbers, with provisional estimates suggesting the number of people killed in such incidents increased to 280 in 2011 from 30 in 2010. This is more than half of the increase in total road deaths last year.
Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), commented: “The increase in deaths and serious injuries because of drink driving is absolutely shocking.
“It accounts for more than half of the increase in road deaths. In 2013, we must see a drink driving education campaign, backed up with enforcement, to put an end to these completely unnecessary deaths.”
Furthermore, according to Mr Greig, the figures suggest the emergence of a worrying trend in the UK for deteriorating standards of road safety. To combat the problem, the IAM is calling on the new road safety minister to “make road safety his absolute priority”.
This will be key in stemming the tide of car accident compensation claims, which will increase as a result of poor safety conditions on the nation’s roads.
“The 2011 figures show that saving lives on our roads can never be taken for granted and with human error still the top cause of crashes, education and training must take centre stage in the future,” Mr Grieg explained.
Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), also claims that there must be a change in approach to improve fatality numbers.
He maintains that the government must seize this opportunity to work with safety professionals to move forward.
Part of this will include setting casualty reduction targets, lowering the drink drive limit and utilising black box technology to help young drivers, according to RoSPA.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) also claims that more must be done to target younger drivers to improve road safety.
They claim that the way people learn to drive must be overhauled to reduce the number of accidents on UK roads and recommend a minimum one year learning period and restrictions on night time driving.
Currently, only one in eight driver license holders are aged 25 or under, but one in three road fatalities involve a person in this age bracket.
Figures have also shown that an 18-year-old is more than three times as likely to be involved in a crash than a 48-year-old. What’s more, young drivers are at a greater risk of being involved in a 3-5 value bodily injury claim from a road accident.
Otto Thoresen, ABI’s director general, stated: “Radical action is needed to reduce the tragic waste of young lives on our roads, especially among the 17-24 age group.
“A car is potentially a lethal weapon, and we must do more to help young drivers better deal with the dangers of driving.”
However, the Driving Instructors Association are sceptical over the proposals and claim that road safety must be addressed across all age-groups if fatality numbers are to be reduced.