Deaths down but serious injuries up in Scotland

12.00 | 26 June 2013 | | 5 comments

While the overall number of people killed on Scotland’s roads in 2012 was the lowest since records began, there was a rise in the number of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities, and a rise in the number of people seriously injured, according to provisional figures published by Transport Scotland.

Overall, there were 170 road deaths in Scotland in 2012 – 15 (8%) fewer than in 2011 and the lowest number since current records began more than 60 years ago. However, 1,959 people were seriously injured – 82 (4%) more than in 2011.

898 cyclists were injured on Scotland’s roads in 2012 (9% more than in 2011). Of these, nine were killed (two more than in 2011) and 167 were seriously injured (11 more than in 2011).

There were 1,950 pedestrian casualties (5% fewer than in 2011). Of these, 54 were killed (11 more than in 2012) and 456 were seriously injured (58 fewer than in 2011).

Among motorcyclists, there were 864 casualties (7% more than in 2011), including 21 deaths (12 fewer than in 2011) and 342 serious injuries (49 more than in 2011).

There were 7,577 car user casualties, of which 72 were killed (17 fewer than in 2011) and 836 were seriously injured (80 more than in 2011).

There were welcome reductions in child casualties, including deaths (two in 2012 compared to seven in 2011) and serious injuries.

Karen McDonnell, head of RoSPA Scotland, said the figures highlight the need to focus on reducing cyclist and pedestrian casualties.

She said: “The road casualty figures for Scotland show that we cannot lose sight of the work that still needs to be done on making our roads safer, particularly where vulnerable road users like cyclists and pedestrians are concerned.

“RoSPA encourages people to walk and cycle and we know that concerns about safety are often cited as barriers to these modes of transport. We therefore support initiatives that seek to improve the safety of cyclists and pedestrians because they can prevent injuries and have other health advantages too.”

Contact Charlotte Hester/Alison Brinkworth on 0121 248 2135/2134 for more information.


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    Hugh – if you look at the casualty graphs on my web site you will find that SI continued to fall at much the same rate from 1993 to 2007 when deaths almost stopped falling. The BMJ pointed out that the falls in SI were due to falling reporting levels (hospital records showed increases). All that has happened in recent years is that K has fallen, catching up with SI no longer falling as fast because the lower limit of reporting levels is coming into effect.

    Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield
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    Peter: I wasn’t misunderstanding ‘seriously injured’ or trying to re-define it, I was trying to highlight the fact that a life saved (and therefore one less ‘fatal’ in the road safety stats) is instead, possibly a devastating life-changing injury for someone and from the roads safety profession’s point of view, hardly a success story. For all we know, fewer fatalities but more injuries may have resulted from the same number of crashes – or more.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    Hugh, to some extent you are right about the golden hour post incident and medical aid. However, you refer to serious injury as, your brackets, life changing injuries yet STATS 19 defines a “serious injury” as an injury for which a person is detained in hospital as an “in-patient” or any of the following injuries whether or not they are detained in hospital: fractures, concussion, internal injuries, crushings, non-friction burns, severe cuts and lacerations, severe general shock which requires medical treatment even if this does not result in a stay in hospital as an in-patient and injuries causing death 30 or more days after the accident.

    I have said in the past that the definition of serious is too wide for realistic target setting. The DfT Strategic Framework for Road Safety did not have targets I believe for this exact reason and we need a debate about KSIs and their place in targets and evaluation. This so, as to paraphrase Rumsfeld, there are things we know we don’t know and under reporting is the below the line figure of the casualty iceberg. Oh, and if you have ever studied icebergs you will know that as the underside melts they can and do flip so the bottom can be the top. Perhaps we should target the slights?

    Peter Wilson Westminster
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    Having watched ‘Life Savers’ on the BBC recently where most of the patients being treated were victims of road traffic collisions and on death’s door, I would suggest that a reduction in deaths and an increase in serious injuries following RTCs is not so much down to any road safety measures or policy, but to the efforts of the emergency services and the awe-inspiring skills of the staff at the trauma centres. In the terms of casualty stats from RTCs, what were once ‘killed’ are now ‘seriously injured’ (life changing injuries) and unfortunately from the road safety angle, this does not means that anything has really improved.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    This is generally very good news. It is believed that few (if any) deaths go unrecorded in Police Stats19 so fewer deaths is a genuine improvement. Obviously, individual user groups will be subject to higher levels of random variation so some will increase while others decrease.

    Only around a third of serious and slight injuries are recorded in Police Stats19 so those figures are simply a sample of the total. We don’t know whether the stats19 figures track the real number of injuries or not therefore perhaps hospital figures could give a far more reliable indicator of road traffic accident trauma.

    If readers want to know why collisions occur in Scotland, contributory factors for 2005-7 are on my website (Scotland seem to have stopped publishing these after 2007). See the 3 excel spreadsheets above the last paragraph of 1.7 How many children, cyclists and pedestrians…

    Dave Finney, Slough
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