Worrying increase in deaths and injuries
At 9.30am today the Department of Transport published their statistics on “Road Casualties in Great Britain: Quarterly Provisional Estimates Q3 2014”. This report reveals the provisional figures for deaths and injuries on the road for the year ended September 2014, and makes shocking and worrying reading.
In these days of increased safety technology and better education about road safety issues, the report in fact identifies that deaths and injuries on our roads appear to be on the increase.
The report suggests that road deaths have increased by 1% and now number 1,730 for the year. Any death is of course tragic, but there has been an even bigger increase in those killed or seriously injured (KSI) which have gone up by 4% to 24.630. On the day that the Birmingham Mail launches a campaign to save the city’s Lollipop Wardens, it is a salutary reminder of the need to make sure children are safe on our roads that child KSIs have increased by 3%.
Overall, casualties of all severities have increased from 184,087 the year before to 192,910, a 5% increase.
It is possible some of these worrying trends have been caused by increased motor traffic on the roads, but traffic levels increased by only 2%, so injuries are outstripping the increase in road traffic by 3%
There may be some good news in the report, in that figures for car occupant, pedestrian and motorcycle casualties have gone down when compared to an average from 2005 to 2009, but pedal cyclist casualties have increased dramatically over the same period. Nevertheless, and even allowing for some quarterly variations, the overall figures have demonstrated increases in KSIs and injuries compared to the previous year.
The Department of Transport are keen to point out that the quarterly figures are based on estimates, and that it remains hard to identify an overall trend, but nevertheless for road safety campaigners and those who represent the injured and bereaved, the statistics are of concern. Philip Edwards, a Serious Injury Solicitor with Birmingham Law Firm Clarke Willmott said:-
“I see all the time some remarkable fortitude, strength and resilience from clients who have lost loved ones or survived serious injury following road crashes, but each event is always a tragedy and life changing to those affected, and it is disturbing to see the figures released today and to realise that in the last year there has been an increase in these awful events. At a time when technology is improving safety features on vehicles, and of greater education, enforcement and road safety planning, it would be hoped the figures for KSIs would be reducing. A simple message is for all of us who use the road to recognise the dangers that are inherent in doing so, and to change our behaviour accordingly, but this needs to work alongside co-ordinated road safety policies and strategies to include a variety of measures. Policies of road calming, appropriate lower speed limit zones (such as the growing implementation of 20mph zones in relevant areas) and education across whole communities – in short adopting a “Safe Systems” approach – has to be seen as a priority, even in these times of austerity. To do otherwise simply means there will be more tragic events on our roads – and the human element of that and the impact on real people must not be lost just by a cold analysis of statistics”
Final figures for road casualties will be published by the Department of Transport in June 2015.