The Government has conceded Britain is in a period when road fatality numbers are stable, despite publishing figures showing a 2% fall in 2019.
The provisional estimates for 2019, published by the DfT on 30 July, show 1,748 people were killed on roads in Great Britain last year – down from the 1,784 reported in 2018.
However, the Government admits this small decrease may be due to natural variation – adding that the trend in the number of fatalities has been broadly flat since 2010.
The stats also show there were 153,315 casualties of all severities in reported road traffic collisions in 2019. This is 5% lower than in 2018 and is the lowest level since 1979.
Meanwhile, there were 25,975 seriously injured casualties. However, this figure is not comparable to earlier years due to changes in severity reporting.
From 2016 onwards, figures on the severity of injury have been affected by a large number of police forces changing their reporting systems.
Fatalities by road user type and age
In terms of absolute counts, car occupants (including drivers and passengers) come out as the road user group with the greatest number of casualties and fatalities in 2019 (43% of total fatalities and 58% of total casualties).
However, this is unsurprising as cars account for around 80% of the traffic on British roads.
Making year-on-year comparisons, there was a 4% fall in the number of car occupants killed in 2019. There were also declines in the number of motorcycle (5%) and cycle (1%) fatalities.
Conversely, there was a 1% rise in the number of pedestrians killed.
In terms of casualty rate per billion passenger miles, motorcycles were the most vulnerable (5,475), followed by cyclists (5,068) and pedestrians (1,613).
By way of comparison, the figure for car occupants was 211.
Looking at age, there were 39 child deaths in 2019, a decrease from 48 in 2018. However, the DfT says child fatalities have fluctuated between 39 and 69 between 2010 to 2019, with no clear trend.
The number of fatalities aged 60 years and over increased by 8% from 588 in 2018 to 637 in 2019.
The RAC says the statistics show some progress was made in 2019 – but also highlight that over a 10-year period, safety on Britain’s roads has “sadly improved very little”.
It adds that of particular concern is the steady rise in fatalities of those aged 60 years and over.
Nicholas Lyes, RAC head of roads policy, said: “We urge the Government to look closely at re-introducing road safety targets and study the correlation between the decline in full-time road traffic police officers and the impact this may have on driver behaviour.
“We also hope that changes announced this week to protect vulnerable road users will prove beneficial in the future.”
Brake has criticised the “appalling stagnation” in the number of road deaths – and says it’s “high-time for the Government to take responsibility and act”.
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: “We need to rid our roads of dangerous drink and drug driving, introduce safe speeds in our towns, cities and rural areas and reinvigorate roads policing, which has been decimated by funding cuts.
“The Government must commit to a Vision Zero approach and the ambition to eliminate the scourge of death and serious injury from our roads for good.”