Report reveals financial benefits of reducing road deaths

16.29 | 15 November 2010 | | 5 comments

The reduction in the number of deaths on Britain’s roads – and the resulting financial benefit – is the focus of the IAM’s (Institute of Advanced Motorists) report, ‘Deaths and Injuries on Britain’s roads’, published on 15 November.

Successful reduction of road casualties moved the UK to number one in the world road-safety league table of safest roads in 2009. With each road fatality costing the UK economy £1.7m, every life saved is a direct benefit to society.

Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, said: “Meeting our casualty reduction targets has meant that deaths on Britain’s roads have halved over the past 20 years with 31,000 deaths avoided and savings to the economy of around £50 billion.

“The IAM calculates that achieving similar targets for road deaths by 2020 would save society 2,500 lives and the economy more than £4 billion.

“These staggering figures prove conclusively that investing in saving lives on the roads saves the country money, so funding being taken away from this area is a false economy. The important task now is to compensate for these cuts.”

Since 1970, road traffic has increased by a factor of two and a half, but road deaths have fallen by more than two-thirds.

In 2009 car occupant and motorcyclist deaths each fell by 16%, 13% fewer pedestrians of all ages were killed, and there was a one-third reduction in deaths of children and young people under 16. Rural roads are still the most dangerous, accounting for two-thirds of fatal and serious casualties, despite a 40% reduction in road deaths over the last 10 years.

Click here to see the IAM report Deaths and Injuries on Britain’s Roads .

For more information contact the IAM Press Office on 020 8996 9777.


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    As you say Derek, Lack of attention and poor judgement by drivers can also lead to road traffic collisions, along with using mobile phones, being distracted by passengers, bad weather conditions, etc, etc. All of the above need more education but also would cause less carnage if speed was not a contributory factor. It is common sense to understand that speed can and has been the cause of fatalities and serious injuries on our roads, wheather there be another factor included or not. Therefore as well as education on being a more responsible driver, we need to reduce speed on our roads with the use of speed cameras as some drivers completely ignore the legal limit without them. There is no cure for death, so we need to do everything we can to prevent it. The Association of British Drivers constantly argue that speed cameras cause collisions by sudden braking, why then are there no collisions caused by a speed restriction sign? The answer is drivers obviously refuse to obey them without the worry of a fine & points on their licence. This is exactly the reason why we need to enforce the law with speed cameras. If a driver cannot check his/her speed safely then they should not be driving at all.

    Clare Brixey, Somerset
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    In view of the 9,447 cyclists admitted to hospital after a non collision accident on ice alone, perhaps a worthwhile consideration might be to remove the emphasis on castigating and persecution of speed alone, to one of teaching commonsense and responsibility before the event. The report has innacuracies in descriptive terms, and which need to be addressed as Mr. Bridgstock has pointed out. Statistics alone used in a mathematical context only vaguely describe and allocate cause of an accident through boxes ticked on a piece of paper, and never allocate what triggers the sequence of events leading to one, most common being lack of attention and poor judgement – this much is known.

    Derek, St Albans
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    Saving lives on our roads should be a priority. The cost of a life lost goes well beyond pounds and pence. Lives lost on our roads are needless, they are lost due to driver error, one of which is speeding. Therefore anything we can do to reduce speed will save lives. Speed cameras do just that so should be switched on all over the country with more added.

    Clare Brixey Somerset
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    I have written to Neil Greig explaining that the calculations used in this report result from mixing values and costs.

    The report talks about “return on investment” as if you get an income of £1.7 million if a life is “saved”.
    It is self-evident nonsense. I do not ignore the pain and grief associated with sudden death, but it cannot be seen as money saved (a reduction in expected expenditure).

    And don’t just take my word for it – the National Audit Office (in fact Amyas Morse, the Comptroller) acknowledged this error in one of their reports a year ago and implemented changes in their review processes to ensure it did not happen again.

    I have asked Mr Greig to withdraw the report and to issue a press release explaining why. It is the only sensible option, and is one that would maintain a degree of integrity.

    Of course it is the same bogus calculation that is used to make expensive and ineffective speed cameras appear to show a cost benefit. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Eric Bridgstock, St Albans
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    This is exactly why we need to keep our speed cameras switched on. We need to educate drivers to understand that by reducing their speed we can save more lives from being lost on our roads. Speed cameras are a vital part of that education.

    Clare Brixey, Somerset
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