We are well on the way to having five-star roads and five-star vehicles – now we must turn our attention to developing five-star drivers.
That was the IAM’s rallying call at the launch of a new report (13/4/11) which shows that driver/rider error and inappropriate behaviour underpin the main causes of fatal and serious crashes.
‘Licensed to skill: Contributory factors in accidents’ presents analysis of five years’ accident data recorded by the police between 2005 and 2009.
Factors including ‘failed to look properly’, ‘loss of control’ and ‘poor turn or manoeuvre’, accounted for 65.3% of fatal, 61.8% of serious and 68.6% of slight accidents.
Injudicious action (illegal or unwise judgements) such as exceeding the speed limit, following too close, or making an illegal turn, was the second biggest factor, accounting for another 31.4% of fatal accidents.
Behaviour or inexperience came a close third, being a factor in 28% of accidents. In contrast, physical circumstances such as road environment, factors affecting vision, and vehicle defects are listed as issues in very few accidents.
Perhaps surprisingly, alcohol was only listed as a factor in 10% of fatal accidents, and using a mobile phone hardly featured at all.
The IAM is calling for education and training programmes for young drivers to address key issues and improve experience; refresher courses for experienced drivers to address ‘failed to look’ incidents and reinforce alcohol messages; and initiatives to track trends among older drivers and identify key areas for action.
Simon Best, IAM chief executive, said: “What is obvious from the top three rankings is that many accidents could be prevented by drivers simply changing their behaviour, as well as gaining more experience. That so many crashes are caused simply by the driver failing to look is shocking. On the positive side, there is plenty that drivers can do to reduce their risk of being involved in an accident.
“The evidence is there. Accidents could be easily reduced by improving driver skills and lives could be saved – especially those of young drivers. The IAM calls on the government to introduce post-test training, to support young drivers through the most dangerous part of their driving career, and to improve their skills for the rest of their lives.”
For more information contact the IAM press office on 020 8996 9777.