Road traffic collisions in London linked to neighbourhood deprivation

12.13 | 23 November 2020 | | 4 comments

New analysis shows that people living and working in London’s most deprived neighbourhoods are twice as likely to be injured in a road traffic collision than the least deprived areas.

The analysis, produced for London’s Poverty Profile by WPI Economics on behalf of Trust for London and the London Road Safety Council (LRSC), explored the relationship between deprivation and the area in which road collisions occur. 

The study found that there are more road traffic collisions recorded in the most deprived neighbourhoods in London than the least deprived.

The 10% of areas with the highest deprivation saw nearly 3,000 casualties in 2019, more than double the 1,400 in the 10% of areas with the lowest levels of deprivation. 

A similar pattern is seen on roads where the speed limit is below 30mph.

However, the trend is even more extreme when looking only at collisions involving pedestrians – which are nearly three times as common in the most deprived neighbourhoods compared to the least. 

The relationship between road collisions and deprivation can be seen most clearly in collisions involving slight injuries, according to the analysis.

Professor Nicola Christie, professor of transport safety in the centre for transport studies at UCL and president of the LRSC, said: “I am grateful to Trust for London for undertaking this work which shows, as we had feared, the reality of inequality when it comes to road safety in London. 

“On a positive front, we are hopeful that initiatives such as School Streets and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods that have arisen from Covid-19 measures will have a positive impact on this situation, but a major concern remains the absence of funding to local councils to continue programmes of education and training that would essentially target the more at risk groups.

“The strong link between deprivation and road casualties especially for pedestrians provides the justification for the DfT and Transport for London to include a measure of casualties by level of deprivation in their road safety strategies. 

“This is needed to focus national and local effort on reducing these unacceptable and avoidable health inequalities at a time of increasing economic hardship and changing mobility patterns due to the pandemic.”

DfT figures show more than 25,000 road collisions were recorded in London in 2019. The majority of these resulted in only slight injuries, but over 3,600 resulted in serious injuries. 

Bharat Mehta, chief executive at Trust for London, said: “Despite having a level of economic performance to be proud of, London has more people living in poverty – in numbers as well as a proportion of the capital’s population – than any other region of the country and there is a gulf in the outcomes of its residents. 

“This London’s Poverty Profile analysis indicates that the chance of being involved in a serious or fatal road traffic collision is also linked to economic factors.”



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    It’s fine hypothesising but your expressing opinions without facts. Clearly, if there were no vehicles, then you would expect fewer collisions. Many drivers are likely to drive below the IAM standard and thus not demonstrate the best skills on the road, but the license doesn’t require that. Setting speed limits to 20mph will not prevent those who want to speed, it does lower the threshold of prosecution for the majority of law abiding drivers who might drift over it. If a road is clear then why should it be such an issue? If it’s a school gate or hospital entrance then enforcement is beneficial. Traffic calming is best done by using led signs that over time alter behaviour through a desire to comply and not be ‘exposed’ and act as an active reminder to watch their speed. The minority that don’t will not be deterred and perhaps should have the choice of points or pass the IAM test. If parents and schools instructed their kids better on road safety we would be win win!

    Mike Harlowe, Cambridge
    Agree (10) | Disagree (0)

    There may well be more ‘safety unaware’ children on the streets in these areas, but even so, collisions are not inevitable – are the drivers in these areas therefore particularly ‘safety unaware’ as well? Also, I would imagine there are many ’20’ limits in these areas – are they being ignored to a greater extent than in less deprived areas?

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (3)

    It stands to reason because there is a higher population density in deprived regions with families who for whatever reason have a lower standard of education and living or cultural differences. With more children playing on streets, lacking supervision, playing in groups, ball games, cycling etc.. you can see from the lack of protection and random positioning that they are safety unaware and this is down to parental education/ interest. So statistically you are going see more casualties in these places. S.Yorkshire is a good example.

    Steve Gibbs, S.Yorkshire
    Agree (17) | Disagree (0)

    Saying there is a link between areas of deprivation and higher number of collisions is a bit vague. I presume there was nothng unusual about the nature of the collisions themselves and could have happened anywhere. Are the more deprived neighbourhoods more populated with vehicles and pedestrians and therefore statistically there is simply more potential for collsions, are they less careful, or is it something else?

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (4) | Disagree (4)

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