UK's road safety stats 'very concerning'

26/09/2019
Dominic Browne

The number of people being killed or seriously injured (KSI) on the roads is on the rise according to official statistics.

Motorways saw the largest increase in road deaths, rising by 8% since 2017 to reach 107 deaths in 2018 - figures Highways England described as 'very concerning'.

The Department for Transport statistics come at a time when Highways England, which operates the motorway network, is facing criticism over its record on safety.

Deaths on urban roads rose by 3% to reach 646 last year, however rural road deaths fell by 4% to 1,030.

Highways England’s Head of Road Safety Richard Leonard said: 'The numbers are very concerning and while over the last 15 years safety has improved and our roads are among the safest in the world, each incident is a tragedy for the individuals and the families involved.

'Improving road safety needs safe roads, safe vehicles and safe drivers. Safety is our top priority and we’re working hard to improve England’s motorway and A roads and we need your help. We all have a role to play to make sure we all get home, safe and well and we’re asking all drivers to make their own safety, and that of other people, the most important thing to think about when they travel. Remember to check your vehicle, obey all signs and think about other drivers.

When the statistics are adjusted for changes in police reporting methods over the last few years they show 29,906 KSIs in 2018, a 2% increase on 2017.

There were 1,784 fatalities on UK roads in 2018, this is 1% fewer than in 2017 but is still worse than levels seen more than five years ago - with 1,754 fatalities recorded in 2012.

Road safety progress had been significant over the last several decades, but has stalled since 2012 with year of year fluctuations explained by 'one-off causes or natural variation'.

In 2016 many police forces switched to a new form of casualty reporting, which is considered more accurate but raised the number of serious incidents, making comparisons with previous years problematic.

The Office for National Statistics does have an adjustment methodology however, which demonstrates the 2% rise in KSIs between 2018 and 2017. There is a 3% rise in the unadjusted figures.

The number of serious injuries recorded since 2016 has shown a steady if slight increase from 24,101 in that year to 24,831 in 2017, to 25,511.

The overall number of casualties in 2018 was 160,597, which is 6% lower than 2017 and the lowest since modern records began in 1979.

However the Department advises caution, as non-fatal casualties are known to be underreported to the police and the percentage drop from the previous year is likely to reflect the new reporting system's impact.

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