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Stagnating road safety stats show need for radical policy changes

Road safety organisations are calling for a much higher government focus on road safety as latest data shows little in casualty figures in recent years.

Figures published today (26 September) by the Department of Transport show there were 1,784 reported road deaths in 2018, compared to 1,793 reported in 2017 – a 1% reduction classed as disappointingly marginal.

There were 25,511 people seriously injured in reported road traffic accidents in 2018, compared to 24,831 in 2017 – a 3% increase over 12 months.

And although there was a 6% fall in the number of overall casualties in reported road traffic accidents in 2018 – down to 160,597 compared to 170,993 casualties a year ago – IAM RoadSmart says this is not good enough and has expressed concern that government disruption has forced road safety down the political agenda, with “practically no headway made in the levels of those killed in road crashes on our roads over the last six years”.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, continued: “The uncertainty surrounding Brexit has swallowed up the attention of the decision makers for too long now, which means people are still dying on our roads at the same level as six years ago – as a developed nation, that is pretty disgraceful.

“It is really time the Government renews its commitment to this issue which is affecting all communities in society, young and old, and make sure we don’t continue to kill and injure people in ways that could so easily be prevented.”

Greig added: “Road safety is everyone’s responsibility and it is clear that working in partnership to promote it is the key to returning to critical, long term downward trends. More incentives for post-test training, consistent enforcement of new motoring laws, accelerating the uptake of AEB (autonomous emergency braking) equipped cars and promoting best practice in driving for work are just a few examples of the quick gains that could be achieved.”

His comments were echoed by the RAC. Head of policy Nicholas Lyes commented: “This latest set of data makes for disappointing reading. In short, there has been no meaningful reduction in fatalities at a national level for seven consecutive years now. While we welcome the Government’s renewed focus with the publication of its recent road safety statement, there needs to be a significant shift in policy that will result in far fewer serious collisions.

“Of particular concern are the rises in fatalities among older age groups and a spike in fatalities on motorways – some worrying trends are emerging here that require immediate investigation, to understand the reasons for these increases and what can be done to reduce them. In addition, the Government’s data suggests an increase in motorway collisions where at least one driver has been under the influence of illegal drugs.

“Historically, Great Britain has been proud of its road safety record, but these figures clearly show that is no room for complacency.”

Written by Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

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