Crash fatalities down in 2010

11.57 | 29 September 2011 | | 15 comments

Figures published by the DfT in ‘Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain 2010’ show that 1,850 people died as a result of road crashes in 2010; a fall of 17% compared with 2009.

The report (released 29/09/11) also reveals that 208,648 casualties from road crashes were reported to the police in 2010, a 6% reduction compared with 2009; and 22,660 people were seriously injured, down 8% since 2009.

The number of fatalities fell for almost all types of road user: 21% for car occupants; 19% for pedestrians; and 15% for motorcyclists. However, pedal cycle fatalities rose by 7%.

Other statistics show that in 5% of all road casualties the driver was over the legal alcohol limit; ‘failed to look’ was a contributory factor in 40% of crashes reported to the police; and the economic welfare cost of reported road accidents was estimated to be around £15bn.

Kevin Clinton, RoSPA’s head of road safety, said: “In 2010, road deaths on Great Britain’s roads fell well below 2,000 for the first time. This was a fantastic achievement. However, there is still more to be done; if all the reported road accidents in 2010 had been prevented, this would have saved almost £15billion – crucial given the current economic climate.

“During the last three years we have had unusually large drops in the number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads. This very welcome result is due to the focus we have had on road safety, but also to some external factors such as the economic downturn, falling traffic levels and heavy snowfalls over the last two winters.

“We need to consider how we can ensure that the major reductions in death and injury do not stop or, even worse, start to increase if the economy picks up and we have milder winters.”

Simon Best, IAM chief executive, said: “The value of preventing each fatal crash on UK roads is around £1.8 million, and approximately £200,000 for each serious injury – it’s clear that effective road safety initiatives not only save lives but also save the nation money. The government should think about the real value of road safety initiatives when it considers its expenditure plans.

“As more and more driver aids are introduced we need to re-think the way we approach safe driving. Vehicle technology requires new thinking and an even greater emphasis on the driver as the decision-maker. The challenge now is for us all to treat driving as a skill for life and embrace post-test training.” 

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    Thank you for clearing that up, Roy!
    I can’t spend too much time on this as a Stirling chap working (in the main) for the “Bairns”. 🙂
    Seriously, though, I think we should be working hard to bring the “others” round to the view that clear thinking is essential to achiveing our common goal – and that demands, in the first place, the most careful use of terminology.
    At a very basic level, the LAW refers to road traffic ACCIDENTS (RTAs) and to road traffic CASUALTIES (RTCs).
    It’s not difficult to see why, even if they were suitable, substituting collision or crash, is a recipe for confusion, never mind anything else.
    Kind regards to you all.


    Andrew Fraser STIRLING
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    Another factor is the government’s scrappage scheme. Removing older “less safe” vehicles from the roads, and replacing them with newer vehicles, often economic models of vehicle were chosen which were less powerful.

    I’m surprised no analysis has been undertaken to assess the safety impact of the scrappage scheme.


    Adam, Hants
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    I can agree with Kevin Clinton’s comments about the external factors affecting casualty figures, especially the economy and the winter weather which meant that drivers stayed off the roads. However, one other factor I think is in need of investigation is the recording and reporting procedure of these collisions. I no longer believe my local data as actually reflecting what is going on on the roads. I have seen my local data for Sheffield ‘crash’; Serious casualties in the first 6 months of the last 4 years are on average 37% down on the figures for the same period of 2000 to 2003; The 2011 figures are the lowest on record; slight casualties in the first 6 months of the last 4 years are 25% down on the same period of 2000 to 2003. SY Fire & Rescue are now doing road safety education in schools and one commander has claimed that this is the reason casualties are at the record low (he issued a press notice to this effect as well !). I will call for an investigation at my local STATS19 meeting.


    John Wright, Engineer (Statistician), Sheffield City Council
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    Oh no! My comment about dross is hitting all the wrong targets. Sorry Andrew, would I, a good Falkirk bairn, be so cruel to a lad from Stirling. No, like Dave, please consider yourself unlisted when I speak of “others”.


    Roy Buchanan, Epsom
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    As far as I can see, Dave Finney and Dr James Whalen are crystal clear on the complexity of the road accident problem and the wide range of factors that lead to them. So the dross must be mine – unless we’re all mistaken.
    If not, I would appreciate further details.


    Andrew Fraser STIRLING
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    Sorry Dave, I did not have you in mind at all when I wrote that but a few “others” whom I will leave unnamed.

    On this occasion I am sure you will be happy to be excluded.


    Roy Buchanan, Epsom
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    “Others”, plural? So not just me then?

    Is it the collapse 1994-2006 that you’d prefer remained unmentioned? It did happen.

    Is it the observation that the current improvements started in 2007, the start of the recession? But that is what is happening.

    Of course “fatalities are influenced by many factors” but it is the job of a safety engineer to determine the effect of each factor with reference to the evidence.

    But it is not possible to find a cause of a problem if the problem is ignored, or even denied!


    Dave Finney – Slough
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    Dr Whalen has made the point that some of us have been labouring for years, that accidents/collisions/fatalities are influenced by many factors emerging in a variety of circumstances. It would be comforting to think that his qualifications would add weight to the argument but, after 44 years of working in road safety, I am not optimistic. A pity, but at least we can be thankful for his contribution as it helps to redress the imbalance caused by the dross presented by others.


    Roy Buchanan, Epsom
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    The elephant in the room, I’d suggest, is a political creature.

    A particularly sharp change in the rate of reduction of fatalities is clear in the Scottish data (from 24 fewer per year to 8 fewer per year).

    I am acutely aware of the elephant trap of equating correlation with causation, but what do people imagine would happen if those bodies, made sufficiently large enough in 1975 to be able to attract and sustain staff of high calibre and have better resources for dealing with roads and their problems, including their responsibilities for studying road accidents and taking various measures to prevent them, had their organisations first ripped to shreds by political interference and then shortly afterwards, were scrapped altogether?

    How can it be a surprise when the very people who design and maintain the roads are no longer able to do it?

    We are constantly being exhorted to “take responsibility”, but how can we take responsibility in circumstances such as these?

    I distinctly remember asking Lord James Douglas-Hamilton what would happen to the accident reduction effort when the Scottish Regions were dissolved – the subsequent and continuing failure of government to address the matter leads me to only one conclusion. I hope to be proved wrong, some day.


    Andrew Fraser STIRLING
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    Thank you, Dr Whalen.

    But that’s the opposite of most theories of behaviour I’ve seen. Generally an immediate effect is expected, wearing off over time. Eg SAS claim lower re-offend rates after courses in the 1st period (6 months I think), rising over the following periods.

    Plus, if there was no test, you’d expect a very high crash rate with new drivers immediately, dropping as they gain experience. A test should improve that immediate crash rate, and a tougher test improve the immediate crash rate further.

    The improvement over 8 years that you mention is surely the effect of experience that occurs with a test, a tougher test or even no test?

    The fact remains that we are now seeing a return to pre-1993 levels of road safety improvements after the collapse 1994-2006.

    Thank goodness for that!


    Dave Finney – Slough
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    Hi,

    In my post I was mainly pointing out that road user behaviour is very complex and one should factor in many variables, including the delay that will occur will a variable is developing its impact.

    My theory is that, having passed a tougher test, because of the biological maturity of the brain and young people’s experience & attitudes it is reasonable to expect a delay to occur before any effect may be observed. From 2007 to 2010 drivers in the age group from 25 to 29 as a casualty group dropped by an average of 1389 per year.

    While we’re talking about variables – what about the contributory factor of failing to observe properly (the most commonly recorded factor)? A driver could fail to look properly and emerge safely from a junction but 20 seconds later the exact same error could have resulted in a fatal collision. Chance is a factor in road safety as well.


    Dr James Whalen (Wolverhampton)
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    Dr James Whalen, could you explain your delay due to tougher 1999 test?

    New drivers were more dangerous before the new test than experienced drivers (surely true) therefore a tougher test should immediately reduce the No of new drivers (more fail) and immediately improve the quality of the new drivers that do pass. Any change in safety should have been seen immediately, certainly over the next 3 years, and any other outcome suggests the tougher test was a total failure?

    Yet 1999 to 2003 was appalling for road safety.

    So did something much more influential wipe out that benefit, something that started around 1993/4?

    There is an elephant in the room here!


    Dave Finney – Slough
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    It’s virtually impossible to point to one factor to explain a reduction in collisions. The interaction of driver behaviour, vehicle technology and road design makes for a multi-factor causation scenario.

    The current economic climate may well be affecting driver behaviour but what about the tougher test introduced in 1999? I would expect a delay of about 8 years whilst drivers mature (from 17 to 25) both in terms of physiological development and attitude so maybe this aspect of driver behaviour began to kick in 2007 as well.

    The bottom line is we should be pleased less people were killed last year. We won’t know until we come out of this recession if it was a real factor and then people can always point to other variables and make sound arguments for those – I suspect vehicle technology is playing a bigger role now than many people suspect.


    Dr James Whalen PhD (Driver Behavior), BSc (Psychology), DSA ADI (car) (Wolverhampton)
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    It’s fantastic news that fatalities are down, continuing the trend that started in 2007, but let us not be fooled about why that’s occurred.

    The clue is in the year it started, 2007, the start of the recession. Every time an economic downturn occurs, road safety improves more than normal so we would expect the largest recession in our lifetime to be accompanied with the largest improvement in road safety in our lifetime. And that seems to be happening.

    Previous to 2007 (and ever since 1994), we had the worst safety improvements since the 1950s with a stubbornly consistent number of fatalities almost every year. It seems that the trend of the period prior to 1993 is finally returning after the collapse in road safety for the intervening 12 years.

    The evidence suggests that the recession must be the major factor, not a possible minor other factor.

    Also, the “value” of a collision is not the same as the “cost” to society and people seem to get very confused over the difference. The value of your TV may be it’s cost to buy, but the value of your wedding ring may be many orders of magnitude of it’s cost.

    Accidents in 2010 did not COST £15billion, that’s their estimated VALUE.


    Dave Finney – Slough
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    I am sure that the DfT’s ‘Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain 2010’ actually refers to casualties resulting from ACCIDENTS, since these are the phenomena that are the subject of the Minister’s requirement.
    It is important to realise that in an ACCIDENT, there may or may not be one collision (as they are normally understood), slightly after which a crashing noise may or may not be heard.

    It is difficult to see how the lack of clarity being introduced in this announcement will help in the ACCIDENT reduction effort.

    I hope the DfT will correct the announcement – it must be aware of the damage that has already been done.


    Andrew Fraser
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