A new report has highlighted that Britain consistently has one of the lowest rates of road deaths worldwide, but fares less well when it comes to the safety of vulnerable road users and in other specific areas.
Produced by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and published by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), the report says that over the past decade Britain has been second only to Malta in the road safety league table.
Focussing specifically on 2015, Britain was third in the list of countries with the fewest road deaths per head of the population, after Norway and Sweden. The report also shows that in the same year Britain had fewer vehicle occupant deaths per head of population than all other countries.
The report compares UK casualty figures to those of the other top performing countries around the world such as Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and Holland. It has been produced to provide an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of Britain’s road safety performance, and to recommend where future investment should be directed.
Despite the overall positivity, the report highlights that Britain falls behind in terms of casualty rates among vulnerable road users, young drivers and on roads where the speed limit is 60mph and above.
Combining pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, there are 13 deaths per million miles travelled in Britain, compared to 10 in Sweden and 11 in Holland. There is also no evidence of higher levels of exposure which might account for the higher casualty rates.
Looking at speed limits, 50% of Britain’s road deaths happen on roads with a speed limit of 60mph and above. This compares to 30% in Sweden, 20% in Holland and 10% in both Switzerland and Denmark.
Britain also has 27 deaths per 1,000km of motorway, compared to 22 in Holland, 11 in Sweden and 10 in Denmark.
The report also pinpoints a higher ratio of 18-24 year-old road user deaths relative to other age groups. However, it does acknowledge that this could be attributed to the lower driving age limit in the UK.
In terms of vehicles, 88% of new cars in Britain have Euro NCAP 5 star safety rating, behind Sweden (92%) and Norway (93%). And with regard to Euro NCAP pedestrian protection scores Britain is lagging 19th out of 28 European countries.
David Davies, executive director of PACTS, said: “It is often said that Britain’s roads are among the safest in the world. But do we have the safest roads, the safest vehicles or the safest road users by comparison with other high performing countries?
“Are there areas where, comparatively speaking, Britain could do better and where investment and effort might be best concentrated?
“This report highlights a number of areas where the UK could do better. Perhaps surprisingly, new cars in the UK have, on average, lower safety ratings than cars in other top performing countries. More worrying is the average pedestrian protection rating for UK new cars.
“The Government needs to promote cars that are low on emissions and high on safety, including pedestrian protection. PACTS urges the public and private sectors to buy only the safest vehicles – those with a 5* safety rating.”