RAC and PACTS report shows varied road casualty rates

Progress made in cutting death and injury on roads across the UK has varied dramatically over the past five years, according to a report carried out by the RAC Foundation and the Parliamentary Advisory Committee for Transport Safety (PACTS).

While the general trend has been downwards this has masked big national and regional variations.

Compared with the 2005-9 average (the government’s baseline for monitoring progress) by 2013 there had been the following reductions in the number of people killed or seriously injured:

  • London -36%
  • Northern Ireland -35%
  • Scotland -33%
  • UK AVERAGE -23%
  • England (excluding London) -19%
  • Wales -15%

While highlighting the dramatic differences between areas, the figures hide a flattening out of the overall downward trend with the most dramatic casualty reduction in this period seen in 2010.

While car occupant safety has improved, the situation amongst vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists) has been less good. Although deaths in this group have declined they are now a larger proportion of all road deaths, rising from 46% in 2005-9 to 49% in 2013. The absolute number of cyclists seriously injured has risen.

The figures are revealed in an interim report Road Safety Since 2010 published by the RAC Foundation and PACTS, and compiled by PACTS and Road Safety Analysis. The final report will be published in the summer after the 2014 casualty data has been released.

Researchers based their work on official casualty data, as well as surveys and interviews with stakeholders including 34 English local authorities.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “The UK risks breaking apart in terms of road safety policy with different administrations having varying levels of power, funding and political will to deal with death and injury on the highways.

“Overall, many fewer people were killed and injured on the roads at the end of the last Westminster parliament than at the beginning. But given the flattening out of casualty figures, a probable increase in casualties in 2014 and a predicted increase in road traffic, it is important that national, regional and local governments review these trends, and share best practice to learn what is, and what isn’t, working around.”

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