Winter weather may cloud real casualty picture: RAC Foundation

12.00 | 25 January 2013 | | 2 comments

The RAC Foundation has issued a warning that severe winter weather may be distorting road casualty figures and masking Government “shortcomings in a long term safety strategy”.

The RAC Foundation says that evidence from previous years suggests that periods of snow and ice lead to lower levels of traffic, lower speeds by drivers who do venture out, and less serious collisions when they do occur.

The Foundation also says that sustained periods of snow and ice in the first and fourth quarters of 2010 are believed to have contributed to the highest ever annual fall in fatalities (17%). The severe weather was not repeated in 2011, and that is likely to be one of the reasons why the number of fatalities rose, the Foundation sugests.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, says that these fluctuations in statistics caused by the weather can obscure the real picture.

Professor Glaister said: “Ministers cannot rely on the weather to make up for shortcomings in a long term safety strategy.

“Even though we should be rightly proud to have one of the safest road networks in Europe, continent-wide research suggests we do not have in place the vision, casualty reduction targets, or enforcement regime to maintain our position.”

The RAC Foundation has published ‘Road Safety: A review of UK and European data’ as part of its ‘Keeping the Nation Moving’ series of fact sheets.

Click here for more information.


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    Stephen Glaister says “continent-wide research suggests we do not have in place the vision, casualty reduction targets, or enforcement regime to maintain our position”.

    Not sure what is expected as a “vision” but I know of no evidence or convincing argument that “casualty reduction targets or enforcement regimes” contribute to fewer casualties.
    Targets provide numbers by which success can be claimed (even if they were achieved through long term trends rather than by interventions) and enforcement is a legal act, which rarely (if ever) has a proven net safety benefit.

    What a shame he does not seem to consider driver training/education part of the mix.

    Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I note that from a European perspective the report said:-
    “In absolute terms, the UK, along with Sweden,the Netherlands and Denmark, remain the four safest EU countries for road use. However,an analysis of the road safety management and plans of European countries ranks the UK within the bottom 25%, which suggests that the slowdown in road safety performance might also be related to systemic planning failures, rather than external factors alone such as the weather.”

    Rod King, Cheshire, 20’s Plenty for Us
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