Who Do We Have To Thank?
The Department of Transport (DfT) have released figures that show that road deaths in the UK, fell below 2000 for the first time ever. The question is “why” and who do we thank? Is it the road safety campaigners, the car makers, or perhaps even the last government?
1,850 people did lose their lives in reported road crashes during 2010 and whilst that’s still a big number, its 17% down on the previous year and if we are being honest, with something like 28 million vehicles in the UK, travelling absolutely billions of miles, its never going to be zero, as accidents will continue to happen, simply because of the number of vehicle movements.
Figures also showed that 22,660 people sustained serious injury and bad as that might seem, it’s an 8% reduction on the previous year and the pattern continues for people that sustained slight injuries where the figure of 184,138 is also down 6% on the year before.
So going back to our question, who do we thank & why?
Well the first and obvious thing you tend to think is that we are all driving more safely, or perhaps that things like road calming measures, or speed cameras along with other safety initiatives are responsible. On the other hand, perhaps the increased cost of running a vehicle has meant that fewer miles are actually being driven and logically, fewer vehicles and fewer miles should see fewer severe accidents happening.
All of this makes some sense and probably all have had an effect, however the figures don’t reveal the actual number of crashes and perhaps, just perhaps we aren’t any better and crash just as much, but its that our much safer, much more sophisticated cars are protecting us better and less of us die or are injured?
There is no doubt that an accident that’s survivable today, wouldn’t have been just a few years ago and the same goes for the extent of the injuries which like for like would have also been more severe. As old cars are replaced and come off our roads, surely that’s going to continue to improve and perhaps it’s the last Labour governments car scrappage scheme that’s helped achieve these impressive reductions in deaths and injuries?
During the period the scrappage scheme ran, in May 2009 through to March 2010, around 20% of all new car registrations used the scheme, which saw something like 400,000 ten year old and even older cars taken off our roads in a very short period of time to be replaced with hugely safer new vehicles. You have to ask yourself if this is where the reductions in deaths or injuries comes from, because so many more of us now drive safer, more crash survivable vehicles with air-bags, ABS, stability programs and numerous other life saving features.
We’ve had road safety measures for years and they haven’t recently evolved in any dramatic way that can account for these reductions. We’ve had cameras, speed humps, calming zones, and speed limits for ages so why is it that they might now be responsible for a sudden change in the numbers in 2010?
As drivers, we’ve always known our responsibilities and the duty we have towards each other to drive safely and whilst we would all say we do, it’s pretty clear that some of us don’t and its just not feasible that there has been any kind of dramatic change in driving patterns in the last 18 months whereas safety innovations built into the vehicles themselves have and continue to move forward at an incredible pace.
So whilst we can’t be certain, if we have to make any conclusions, logically it has to be that we thank Mr. Ford, Mr. Peugeot and all of the other car makers, as well as thanking the last Labour government whose scrappage scheme saw 400,000 old and often unsafe vehicles taken off our roads for good contributing to the fantastic news that more of us are safe in our cars, for more of the time