The number of children killed or seriously injured on the strategic road network doubled in 2016, new figures published by Highways England show.
The Government agency’s SRN Casualty Report reveals that 81 children (0-15 years) were killed or seriously injured (KSI) on roads managed by Highways England during 2016 – compared to 40 in 2015. Female child KSIs rose by 110% to 42, while male child KSIs rose by 95% to 39.
The road safety charity Brake described the figures as ‘heartbreaking’.
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: “That’s 81 children, nearly seven every month, killed or seriously injured on Highways England’s roads, causing unimaginable devastation to families across the country.
“These findings must act as a wake-up call to Highways England and the Government, who have let their focus on road safety slip, with truly devastating results.”
The Highways England report also shows a rise in KSIs among young road users (16-19 years) – up by 28% to 118 in 2016. This figure comprises 78 young males (up 30%) and 40 females (up 25%).
There was a 13% rise in the number of KSIs among 20-59 year-olds, while the number of KSIs among elderly road users (70 years plus) rose by 12%. However, the number of KSIs among road users aged 60-69 years fell by 22%.
Highways England says it is on course to meet its target of reducing the number of fatalities on the SRN by 40% by the end of 2020 – when compared to the 2005-09 baseline.
In 2016 there were 231 deaths, compared to the figure of 258 which would see Highways England on course to meet the 2020 target of 214.
However, the agency is behind schedule in terms of KSIs – with the total of 2,005 being considerably higher than the 2016 target figure of 1,678.
In mitigation, Highways England points to changes in collision reporting systems between 2015 and 2016, which are estimated to have added between 5% and 15% to the Great Britain total for serious injuries.
Approximately half of English police forces adopted the CRASH (Collision Recording And SHaring) system for recording reported road traffic collisions at the end of 2015, while the Metropolitan Police switched to a new reporting system called COPA (Case Overview Preparation Application) from September 2016.
Joshua Harris added: “The failure of Highways England to meet their overall road safety targets for 2016 and reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on our motorways and major A roads is sadly symptomatic of the wider stagnation in road safety in the UK.
“We need the urgent introduction of proven measures to arrest this slide and call upon the Government to act to improve road safety now.
“A zero-tolerance approach to drink-driving, safer speeds, stricter enforcement and much greater investment in roads policing are all vital to arrest this disturbing decline in UK road safety.”