The number of road deaths, seriously injured and total casualties all increased year on year in 2014, according to figures published today by the DfT.
The headline figures show 1,775 fatalities in 2014, an increase of 62 deaths (4%) compared to 2013. The DfT points out that this is still the third lowest year on record.
The number of people seriously injured in accidents reported to the police rose by 5% to 22,807 in 2014 – the first rise in serious injuries since 1994. Overall, there were 194,477 reported casualties in 2014, up 6% from 2013.
Almost three-quarters of the increase in fatalities were pedestrians. There were 446 pedestrian fatalities in 2014, up 12% (or 48 deaths) from the 2013 level. The number of pedestrian fatalities aged 60 years or over increased by 45, accounting for a significant proportion of the increase in fatalities.
There was also a significant rise in the number of cyclists seriously injured, from 3,143 to 3,401. This number has been increasing almost every year since 2004.
For the first time the DfT has made an assessment of whether the changes in casualty numbers are statistically significant. It concludes, “although the casualty numbers for all three severity types increased, the increases for fatalities and seriously injured casualties are not statistically significant at the 95% confidence level”.
This means that, according to the DfT, the changes are more likely to be a product of chance rather than being caused by an underlying trend.
COMMENT FROM STAKEHOLDERS
“These figures are greatly concerning and show the time for action is now. We are clear on what needs to happen. We call again for road safety targets to be reintroduced – they are the only clear way of ensuring reductions are measured and achieved. There also must be a greater focus on driver and rider quality and incentives for companies and individuals to continuously develop their skills. There also needs to be a focus on tackling pedestrian deaths, an area which is often ignored. We believe that car technology and design should now shift from occupant protection to protecting the vulnerable outside cars.”
Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research
“These figures will make for disappointing reading by the Government, road safety professionals and the general public; it does appear that the days of annual reductions in road casualties now appear to be well and truly over. The rise in the numbers killed or seriously injured among the pedestrian, cyclist and older age groups is of significant concern. The 17% rise in over 60s killed on our roads, the largest increase of any age group, is a timely reminder of the challenges of dealing with an ageing population. National efforts to tackle road safety appear to be stalling, after decades of progress in reducing the numbers killed or injured on the roads. A new national strategy on road safety cannot come soon enough. These figures serve to highlight just how pressing the need is for road safety to be given the political focus it clearly so desperately needs.”
David Bizley, RAC chief engineer
“We should be under no illusions as to the seriousness of these figures. Hand-wringing about statistical significance aside, the reversal of a downward casualty trend that has been ongoing for 17 years does not happen by chance. The government must take the bull by the horns on this, and it can start by reintroducing ambitious casualty reduction targets, with an ultimate aim of reducing deaths and serious injuries on our roads to zero. Britain claims to have some of the safest roads in the world, but that just isn’t true if you are one of the many people who want to get around on foot or bike. Pedestrians and cyclists are picking up the tab for the government’s failure of ambition – a 20mph default urban speed limit is a key step to rectifying this.”
Ed Morrow, campaigns officer for Brake
ROAD SAFETY ANALYSIS
“The growth in cycling and walking is to be welcomed as both make a huge contribution to the overall health of the nation. However, the changing way in which we use the roads requires us all to exercise even greater care, especially for those on bikes or on foot who do not have the protection of a highly sophisticated shell with thousands of pounds worth of safety features.”
“As our economy improves, we can expect traffic levels to continue to increase, so we must do everything we can to make sure this does not lead to even more increases in road crashes and casualties. We must remain focussed on making our roads safer for everyone, and especially for people travelling on foot and by two wheels. The number of pedestrian fatalities involving those over 60 has increased by 16%, together with a 7% increase in car occupants. With an aging population we must renew our efforts to reverse this phenomenon.”
Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at RoSPA
GEM MOTORING ASSIST
“Strong political leadership is essential if we want to put right this unacceptable situation. The government must immediately provide positive direction for the remainder of this decade and beyond. We know there is enormous commitment and willingness from road safety professionals to continue the work to save lives, even though cuts to road safety budgets have reduced their number considerably in the past five years. We need to see that there is strong political will right now. Bland assurances about having some of the safest roads in the world are simply not good enough, because more people – particularly vulnerable road users – are being injured and killed.”
David Williams MBE, GEM chief executive