Economic downturn has reduced road deaths: TRL

12.00 | 12 March 2013 | | 4 comments

Since Britain entered recession the number of people killed on the nation’s roads has fallen by more than a third, a new report from the TRL will reveal.

To be presented at a Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) conference later this month, the report will show that the number of people killed on Britain’s roads has fallen from 2,946 in 2007 to 1,901 in 2011.

The PACTS conference ‘Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics?’ is taking place at the Royal College of Surgeons in London on 21 March. The conference will explore the casualty trends and trajectories for different road user groups over recent years. It will also examine the impacts of safety measures and attempt to assess the wider societal factors affecting road safety.

Louise Lloyd, senior statistician at TRL, will highlight the trends behind the numbers, including: how traffic volume is falling as motorists cut out discretionary journeys because of the economy; how drivers are sticking to slower speeds to save fuel; drink drive casualties are declining as people sacrifice nights out; and the squeeze on spending is resulting in a drop in young males taking driving tests.

Louise Lloyd says: “It appears that in prosperous years people may have been over-confident in their driving style, taking more risks with speed and drink driving for example.

“External influences such as the recession and weather patterns have caused people to be more cautious about their safety on the roads, leading them to drive more carefully. It is this change in behaviour which is directly affecting the number of fatalities on our roads.”

Edmund King, AA president, will look to dispel some ‘myths’ over issues such as attitudes to safety cameras, drink drive limits, and frequency of MOT. He says: “Governments and opposition parties often assume they know what motorists think in a stereotypical way, but when it comes to safety they quite often get it wrong. The driver is not always a Mr Toad or a Mr Clarkson.”

Stephen Hammond MP, road safety minister, will give the opening address, with a range of other experts tackling the ‘facts behind the headlines’.

The conference will be chaired by Will Moy, director of FullFact, the independent fact-checking organisation that promotes accuracy in public life. He says: “We can only answer the questions about road safety and driving trends properly by getting down to the nitty-gritty facts, and really engaging with the meaning behind statistics.

“We need debate built on figures and research produced to high standards, not the hearsay and faulty information that passes under the banner of fact.”

David Davies, PACTS executive director, says: “TRL’s findings are based on work commissioned by Surrey County Council. While Surrey is to be congratulated, it is worrying that that the Government has not led on such important research.”

Click here for more information about the event.


Comment on this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Report a reader comment

Order by Latest first | Oldest first | Highest rated | Lowest rated

    Let’s not forget the car scrappage scheme that was implemented in 2009, which saw hundreds of thousands of older cars replaced with newer models which have greater safety features (better brakes, lights, airbags, crash protection etc.) This will have had a major effect on road safety during the period 2007-2011.

    Adam, Hants
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    The continuing recession has indeed been primarily responsible for recent steep falls, and by a far greater margin than traffic volume alone explains. I am pleased to see TRL recognising what Al Gullon, a Canadian expert, has long reported, the very strong and international connection between driver attitudes during boom and bust, and accident rates. This is a far more significant factor, alongside vehicle and road engineering, than all other road safety policies combined.

    Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I don’t think the economic climate has that much of an impact on traffic volumes or on the way individuals drive either. There may not have been less accidents overall, just the consequences of those that occurred happened to be less serious. The weather is mentioned and obviously this has a bearing on the likelihood of accidents happening, but then again we’ve always had weather and presumably would be regarded as a constant.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    There are contradictions here.

    Will Moy says: “We can only answer the questions about road safety and driving trends properly by getting down to the nitty-gritty facts”.

    Edmund King says: “Edmund King, AA president, will look to dispel some ‘myths’ over issues such as attitudes to safety cameras”.

    There is very little factual when attitudes are involved – they depend on the phrasing of the questions and the interpretation of the results.

    Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.