GB road casualties rise in 2014

12.00 | 25 June 2015 | | 7 comments

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.


“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


“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.”
Dan Campsall

“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

“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


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    A significant increase in cyclist injury incidents rising progressively since 2004. This is just what I stated would happen when some individuals and organisations encourage more cyclists onto the road with apparent unlimited freedom to do whatever they want without restraint.

    Quite an increase in elderly (over 60 yrs) being involved in fatalities as pedestrians. I faintly remember one incident that involved a vehicle leaving the road and killing a number of pedestrians. One incident can make a difference to stats when there are multiple injuries or fatalities. Just like a multiple pile up on a motorway or a single coach incident with many passengers injured or killed.

    Bob Craven Lancs…Space is Safe Campaigner.
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    Hi Hugh,

    Drivers not wearing seatbelts = 61%; Passengers (and in one case the OV driver) 39%.

    Just an observation – the DOE survey was carried out on drivers and passengers in general – not on serious injured or fatally injured. It’s a bit like comparing apples and oranges. I don’t think anybody doubts that the majority (90% or whatever) of vehicle occupants wear seatbelts – but the majority of vehicle occupants aren’t involved in collisions.

    Elaine, Northern Ireland
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    Elaine: According to your research, of those who were not wearing their belts and who were fatally injured, were they the drivers or passengers? If the driver, were they in the vehicle deemed to be most at fault or were they the helpless victim? I believe there is a correlation between drivers who are not inclined to belt-up and their driving behaviour generally and thus their likelihood of triggering and causing a collision.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    Hi Idris,

    I am in the process of completing a study of vehicle occupant fatalities – the overwhelming majority of which are cars (93.8%). In 35.3% of cases the deceased was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the collision. In all cases, they should have been wearing one.

    Perhaps you may wish to read this survey from the Department of the Environment, Northern Ireland.

    When I comment, it is usually based on evidence.


    Elaine, Northern Ireland
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    Re the IAM comment that targets “are the only clear way of ensuring reductions are…… achieved”. No they are not! Targets ensure nothing whatever, whether in road safety or any other context.

    The worse figures in 2014 were entirely predictable on the basis of the long-term correlation between accident rates and the state of the economy identified across decades and borders by Al Gullon – see They also represent a normal sort of correction to the better than normal reductions during the recession.

    re Brake’s comment – the jury is still out on what effect 20mph areas have on accident rates, perhaos particularly on KSI.

    Re the RAC “it does appear that the days of annual reductions in road casualties now appear to be well and truly over”. What nonsense – we had years of substantial increases from 1946 to the late 1960’s, followed by decades of reductions. The 2014 changes are merely a hiccup imposed on a long term downward trend which will continue indefitely.

    Re the ROSPA comment – changes in the state of the economy affect accident rates by far greater proportions than the odd % in traffic volume – as Al Gullon established some years ago, it’s all to do with different driver attitudes in booms and busts.

    Nor does anyone seem to notice that these numbers are very small compared to accidental deaths and injuries due to many other reasons, including hospital errors and failings, many of which could be prevented much more easily and at lower cost.

    Is Elaine not aware that seat belt wearing has long been of the order of 90% – and that the the remaining 10% includes those not legally required to wear them, such as drivers of taxis and old cars not fitted with belts?

    Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield
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    Or do what any statistician worth his salt would do – which is to look at trends. There are numerous reasons why data change over time. Weather, economics, stuff. It takes time to determine why things change. So although the significance may be due to chance in this particular instance – you still need to wait until the following year(s) to see if any change is consistent.

    Ultimately the data are merely a means to provide an understanding of change, which is I guess what the DfT are doing. But you still need to look underneath to find out what actually happens – which is more relevant.

    For example if x number of people are being killed in cars, there is no point stating that speed kills when it may be the case that a third of car occupants don’t wear seat belts. Or a third of drivers are drunk. You don’t need a system to work that out – just access to the RTC files.

    Elaine, Northern Ireland
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    Isn’t it strange that the first time the DfT analyse the figures to see if they are statitically significant is after the numbers have increased. Perhaps if a similar analysis had been done for previous years they may have concluded much the same for any decrease in the figures.

    If as suspected the rise and fall in KSI figures is no more than the result of normal variation inherent in the system then we desperately need a new way of analysing and understanding what’s actually happening in the system. Luckily for us all there is an established method that will reveal exactly what’s going on and whether increases and decreases are part of a trend or just random changes. The use of this method would require abandoning the behaviourist mindset and adopting Deming’s systems thinking and Safety II, but that would be a small price to pay for the understanding it would bring.

    Duncan MacKillop. No surprise – No accident.
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