Road Causalities Down in 2011, But Road Deaths Up – But Compared to What?
With the amount of safety features built into our cars these days, one might expect road accidents to be more survivable and that the number of road deaths would therefore reduce, and that previously non-survivable accidents would now be injuries rather than fatalities, but that does not seem to be happening if the latest DFT figures are to be believed.
The annual number of people killed in road accidents reported to the police has increased, by 3 per cent, from 1,850 in 2010 to 1,901 in 2011. This is the first increase since 2003.
The total number of casualties (slight injuries, serious injuries and fatalities) in road accidents reported to the police in Great Britain in 2011 continued to fall, by 2 per cent, from 208,648 in 2010 to 203,950 in 2011. Total reported child casualties (ages 0-15) have continued to fall, by 0.5 per cent in 2011 to 19,474. The number of children killed or seriously injured also fell, decreasing by 4 per cent to 2,412 in 2011, from 2,502 in 2010.
Vehicle traffic levels are broadly stable after falling for 3 years. The overall casualty rate for accidents reported to the police per billion vehicle miles continued to fall to 666 per billion vehicle miles, compared to 681 casualties per billion vehicle miles in 2010 but the killed or seriously injured rate increased to 82 per billion vehicle miles.
That’s pretty dismal stuff, so what’s going on because we have safer vehicles, much safer and much more speed controlled roads, we have traffic calming in many places and of course, statistically, as our police patrols and speed cameras have caught more of the bad & speeding drivers, in many cases resulting in them losing their licences, so one would figure our roads would be safer places???
Well looking a bit deeper into the statistics and it reveals that whilst road traffic volumes were up a touch at 0.2 percent, and that’s not much, it’s the miles we travel that have had the major effect. It makes sense less miles means less accidents because logically, if none of us ever went anywhere, well none of us would get killed or injured in a crash. So looking back to the average rating for people killed or seriously injured (KSI) in the period from 2005-2009, and looking at the distances travelled, the report reveals that for each “billion vehicle miles” that the 2011 (KSI) figures are 15% less than they were in 2005-2009, so mile for mile, the headline starts to look better and we are all actually safer “even if more people are injured and killed”.
The 2011 fatality figures showed the biggest drop compared to the 2005 – 2009 figures being a massive 32% less and that’s a dramatic decrease and this is good news and I guess should I guess be the headline figure?
So what’s causing our accidents? Well as we all know, its operator error, it’s the nut behind the wheel (as they used to say) but for some types of road user, it’s definitely got safer. Bus and coach passengers saw a 22% reduction in fatalities, whilst 362 motorcycle users killed in 2011 a 10 per cent decrease compared to 2010 and in line with the trend for motorcycle fatalities. However the number of users reported as seriously injured increased by 10 per cent to 5,247. Total reported motorcycle user casualties increased by 8 per cent to 20,150 in 2011. Motorcycle traffic increased by 0.9 per cent over the same period. Their slower 2 wheeled compatriots, the pedal cyclists also saw a drop, but lower at 4%. The big losers are pedestrians who saw a 12% increase in (KSI) and car drivers who jumped by 6%.
In 2011, it was estimated that 9,990 casualties and that’s 5% of all road causalities, happened when somebody was driving over the legal alcohol limit and a massive 15% of fatalities, or 280 people, were killed in drink drive incidents whilst its estimated a further 1,570 people were seriously injured because of drink driving and that’s 5% up on the previous year and this means that effectively, that Drink driving accounts for more than half of the increase in road deaths during 2011.
The report reveals that 412 people were killed in crashes involving young driver’s age 17–24 and that they accounted for 22% of all road deaths in 2011. Statistically, its men that have the greater chance of being killed and I guess that’s probably because they cover greater annual mileages.
The main cause however of accidents reported to the police is “failing to look properly” and that’s been given as the reason in 42% of the accidents reported to the police. The DfT statistics also reveal that 205 people were killed or seriously injured in an accident where illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres were a contributory factor.
It’s reported that the total cost of all this carnage to the country is around £15.6 Billion each year.
Its awful reporting on statistics and taking about accidents and unnecessary deaths, but as they say on Crimewatch “please don’t have nightmares” because whilst these figures are of course scary, there are something like 33 million vehicles on our roads, most of which use our roads every day, travelling billions of miles on Great Britain’s 400,000km of roads, so that a lot of vehicles, with a lot of drivers and a lot of passengers.
I found a site which provided “odd’s” for all kinds of things and it claimed that you have a 1 in 20,000 chance of getting killed on the roads of Britain “in any one year”, although across a lifetime, that drops to 1 in 240 and whilst that does not sound that good, the same statisticians say that the odds are much higher at 1 in 82 in the USA. For cyclists, over a lifetime, the chances of getting killed in an RTA are I in 5103. It does mean however that you’ve got more chance of getting killed on your way to getting your lottery tickets than you have of winning the jackpot! So as Sergeant Phil Esterhaus used to say in Hill Street Blues “Hey, let’s be careful out there”