The DfT has confirmed that road deaths increased in 2011 for the first time since 2003.
The increase is confirmed in the DfT’s annual road casualty report, ‘Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: 2011 Annual Report’, published today (27 September). The final figures are in line with provisional figures released by the DfT in June.
The report shows that road deaths in 2011 rose by 3%, from 1,850 in 2010 to 1,901. It also reveals that child deaths increased from 55 in 2010 to 60 in 2011; collisions resulting in serious injuries increased by 2%; pedestrian deaths rose by 12%; and the number of seriously injured pedestrians increased by 5%.
In contrast, total casualties of all severity were 2% lower than in 2010, while motor vehicle traffic increased slightly, by 0.2% over the period.
The number of cyclists killed fell from 111 to 107, despite an increase in the number of cyclists on the road. However, seriously injured cyclists increased by 16%, to 3,085.
The report also revealed a fall in the number of motorcycle deaths, which decreased by 10%, to 362. However, this was accompanied by 10% and 8% increases in motorcycle serious injuries and overall casualties.
Robert Gifford, executive director of PACTS, said “Of particular concern are the rise of 6% in car occupants and 10% in deaths on built-up roads. It is on these roads where vulnerable road users are most at risk. After years of progress in improving pedestrian safety in our towns and cities, we do not want to see this group suffer through cuts in road engineering or enforcement.
“It is also concerning to note the increase of 10% in casualties among cyclists going to and from work. Cycling casualties between 7am and 10am and 4pm and 7pm on Monday to Thursday have risen from 6,249 to 6,932. We must continue to make the commute to work a safer journey for cyclists, especially since this form of road use is rising.
“The new Secretary of State has identified that road safety remains a key priority for his department and for the government. These figures show him clearly why this should be so. For deaths to rise in the time of a recession and when traffic levels have remained broadly static suggests that our roads are becoming more dangerous for citizens rather than safer.”
Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at RoSPA, said: “These figures must be taken as an opportunity to revise the way we work to make roads safer. It is a chance for road safety professionals and the new ministerial team at the DfT to come together and discuss the way forward. While we appreciate that the Government has tough funding decisions to make, we must now do more to arrest and reverse the number of people being killed or hurt on our roads.
“Now is the time to drop the proposal to increase the motorway speed limit to 80mph, and the decision not to set casualty reduction targets in the Government’s ‘Strategic Framework for Road Safety’. The drink-drive limit should be lowered from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg (in line with the proposed changes in Scotland & Northern Ireland), and Government, the insurance industry and road safety bodies should work together to make the best use of black box technology in vehicles, especially to help young drivers and at-work drivers.”
Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, focused on the increase in casualties attributed to drink driving. He said: “The increase in deaths and serious injuries because of drink driving is absolutely shocking. It accounts for more than half of the increase in road deaths. In 2013, we must see a drink driving education campaign, backed up with enforcement, to put an end to these completely unnecessary deaths.
“With last year’s surprising increase in deaths and early indications from 2012 that a trend could be developing, the IAM urges the new road safety minister to make road safety his absolute priority.
“Britain has been at the top of the world road safety league, but a combination of public spending cuts and lack of central targets may be putting this in jeopardy. The 2011 figures show that saving lives on our roads can never be taken for granted and with human error still the top cause of crashes, education and training must take centre stage in the future.”
Click here to read the DfT report in full.