Recalculation turns Highways England KSI stats around

Chris Ames

Highways England is ‘on target’ to hit a key road safety target, despite the number of killed and seriously injured (KSI) casualties on its network reported by the police increasing between 2015 and 2017 and a rise in the number of deaths.

The anomaly is because of a recalculation on casualty figures on the basis of changes to police reporting methods. The baseline for the Government-owned company's casualty reduction target for the first Road Investment Strategy (2015-20) dates back to an average for 2005-2009. 

Based on the recalculation, the new data suggested that KSIs fell between 2015 and 2017; however under the old figures the numbers were rising. 

According to the previous official figures data published by Highways England, in 2017 – the latest year for which data has been published – 236 people were killed and 1,617 seriously injured on the strategic road network (SRN), giving a total of 1,853.

This compares with 224 people killed and 1,560 seriously injured in 2015, a KSI total of 1,784.

Highways England has a target to cut KSI casualties by 40% by the end of 2020, which was to be measured against the average annual KSI figure from 2005-09 – 2,321 KSIs.

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR), which is responsible for monitoring Highways England’s performance against its safety targets, told Highways that the Office of National Statistics (ONS) had carried out methodological work that allowed casualty statistics to be revised. This followed concerns over the way police forces classified and reported serious injuries,

The ORR said that the new 2005-09 baseline was recalculated to be 2,969 KSIs.

An ORR spokesperson said: ‘The revised data show that 2,012 people were killed or seriously injured on the network in 2017. This is a 32% reduction on the baseline, and puts Highways England on the trajectory required to meet its target of a 40% reduction by 2020.’

The spokesperson added: ‘The number of fatalities reported each year is unaffected by the data changes. In 2017, there were 236 deaths on the strategic road network, which is 2% higher than in 2016.’

The recalculated figure for 2015 – the year Highways England came into existence – is 2,243, down 24.5%. The 2017 figure of 2,012 represents a further 7.7% fall against this baseline.

An overall fall of 40% by 2020 against the recalculated baseline would represent KSIs on the SRN falling to 1,782 under the new methodology.

This means Highways England would need to repeat its performance from 2015 to 2017, where it secured half the drop in KSIs they need against the recalculated baseline.

The recalculated figures are based on assuming that all police forces had used the new reporting method.

The ORR also told Highways that Highways England had supplied it with a document showing that 95% of travel on the SRN is rated three star or above under the iRAP star rating system, against a 2020 target of 90%.

However, a spokesperson for Highways England stated that this assessment was carried out in 2015, meaning that it was already meeting its 2020 target.

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