2009 casualty figures are good news – but what of the future?

09.55 | 24 June 2010 | | 3 comments

Road Safety organisations were united in welcoming the fall in road casualties in 2009, while at the same time warning that a lack of investment going forward, and the absence of a clear road safety strategy and targets, could jeopardise further casualty reduction.

Figures released by the DfT last week show that the number of people killed in road accidents fell by 12% in 2009 compared to the previous year. Reported child casualties also fell by 6%, as did pedestrian casualties. Motorcycle casualties also fell, by 4%, but casualties among pedal cyclists rose by 5%.

Alan Kennedy, chairman of Road Safety GB said: “This is a fantastic achievement but the Government’s budget cuts seriously threaten our ability to reduce casualties further.  

“Although we live in difficult economic times public safety is paramount, and it is vital that resources continue to be invested to ensure that our roads become safer and more lives are saved.”

Robert Gifford, executive director of PACTS, said: “The fall of 12% in deaths is higher than we predicted and far exceeds any fall in motorised traffic during the year. This suggests that improvements in safety on our roads can be sustained over a period of time.

“These falls in deaths and injuries reflect the combined and co-ordinated efforts of local and national government, the private and the professional sectors.

“They have been helped by a target for casualty reduction that has provided a focus and a measure of public accountability. It is important that the new government publishes as soon as possible its target for further reductions beyond 2010.
“Reductions in crashes do not happen by accident. They happen through concerted and well-funded efforts based on research and evidence. We need to maintain that approach even in the mew more austere climate.”

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at RoSPA, said: “Overall, the figures are good news. The reduction in deaths represents another very large fall on top of that achieved in 2008. In two years, we have seen a fall in road deaths of more than 700.

“The challenge now is to keep this momentum going and continue the reduction in death and injury on the roads in the current economic climate.

 “With public spending reducing dramatically, we need to find ways of ensuring that our investment in road safety is maintained. In addition to the human cost of road accidents, the financial cost to the country runs into the billions of pounds – money that Britain could really do with saving. Preventing accidents is highly cost effective.”

Ellen Booth, campaigns officer for Brake, the road safety charity, said: “The Government’s road safety strategy and targets were a step in the right direction. We challenge the new Government to seize every opportunity to protect road users, starting with setting new, challenging targets. We also need a bold strategy that spells out the importance of investing in road safety, despite government cuts.”

Key results in Reported Road Casualties Great Britain Main Results: 2009 include:

• The number of people killed in road accidents fell by 12% – from 2,538 in 2008 to 2,222 in 2009. In accidents reported to the police 26,096 people were killed or seriously injured in 2009, 6% fewer than in 2008. There were just over 222,000 road casualties in Great Britain in 2009, 4% less than in 2008.

• The number of deaths among car users in 2009 was 1,059, 16% less than in the previous year. The number seriously injured in accidents reported to the police fell by 6% to 10,053. Total reported casualties among car users were 143,412, 4% lower than 2008. Car and taxi traffic remained at about the same level as in 2008.

• Reported child casualties fell by 6%. The number of children killed or seriously injured in 2009 was 2,671 (down 5% on 2008). Of those, 1,660 were pedestrians, 7% down on 2008. 81 children died on the roads, 43 less than in the previous year, a reduction of over a third.

• There were 500 pedestrian deaths, 13% less than in 2008. Reported seriously injured casualties fell by 9% to 5,545. The all pedestrian casualty figure fell to 26,887 in 2009, 6% lower than 2008.

• The number of pedal cyclists killed fell by 10% from 115 in 2008 to 104 in 2009. The number of seriously injured rose by 6% to 2,606. The total casualties among pedal cyclists rose by 5% to 17,064.

• There were 472 motorcycle user fatalities in 2009, 4% lower than during 2008. The number reported as seriously injured fell by 4% to 5,350. Total reported motorcycle user casualties fell by 4% to 20,703 in 2008. Motorcycle traffic rose by 2% over the same period.  The all motorcycle user casualties figure for 2009 of 20,703 is 4% lower than in 2008.

• There were 163,554 road accidents reported to the police involving personal injury in 2009, 4% fewer than in 2008. Of these, 21,997 accidents involved serious injuries, 5% fewer than in 2008 (23,121).

Click here to read the full DfT news release.


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    Both Roy and Jeremy make valid points. We must continue to drive the figures down. One casualty is one too many for the loved ones and others involved in the immediate ripple.

    Looking at the new figures and making a few assumptions; i.e. a fatality represents an average overall cost to the community of about £1.6 million and a serious injury a cost of about £185,000. A rough calculation indicates a saving for the tax payer of roughly 0.7 billion pounds due to the reduction in fatalities and serious injuries over the last year. A significant amount considering the current state of the public purse.

    The other year it was reported that some NHS trusts were paying for road salting. They reported that they felt it was money well spent as it offset higher A&E and treatment costs that would otherwise have been sustained. Cleary a good example of where prevention can be cost effective.

    Let’s hope that those in power can ‘think outside the box’ – but I won’t hold my breath.

    Mark – Wiltshire
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    This is a great result. The human cost is clearly incalculable, but it would be good to see these figures translated into hard cash reductions to the tax payer. i.e the cost to the tax payer of an rtc for example is so high that with reductions of 12% I would have thought that expenditure on road safety communication has been fantastic value for money. The massive reduction in spending in road safety communication by the current administration is surely a massive false economy…

    Jeremy Stinton, ST16 Ltd.
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    Any improvement is to be welcomed and this one in our business is very encouraging indeed. All practitioners at all levels throughout the UK should take heart in these latest figures and be enthused to carry on to greater achievements. I am particularly pleased to see that, despite the 2% rise in motorcycle traffic, there is a fall of 4% in motorcycle fatalities. However, let’s not get carried away with percentages, let’s look look at the numbers. 472 motorcyclists were killed in 2009. 1059 car users lost their lives. 500 pedestrians lives ended on our roads and, saddest of all, 81 children died in road accidents last year. Let us rejoice in a battle won but victory is still along way off. We must ensure we retain the skills and experience in our ranks. Redundancy is not an option. We must maintain our resources, ring-fence road safety, after all we are part of education. And if a politician tells you we can’t afford road safety, ask him why the only area to have its budget increased is international aid. One foreign country alone is to receive from the UK, 2 million a year. That country is funding a space exploration programme, a nuclear development programme and increasing the size of its Navy. Perhaps advice on budgeting would be better. But let me end on a high note. When I became involved in road safety 43 years ago, the death toll was around 8,000 a year. Am I pleased with a figure of 2,222? Pleased – yes, but not satisfied.

    Roy Buchanan Sutton
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