A leading transport safety group has called for action after publishing a report revealing that Britain has more vulnerable road user deaths per head of population than other high-performing European countries.
The report from the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), commissioned by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), acknowledges that Great Britain is consistently among the world’s countries with the lowest rates of road deaths.
However, it points out that ‘pedestrians, pedal cyclists and motorcyclists constitute almost half of Britain’s road deaths, but fewer than two-fifths in Sweden'.
The report adds: ‘This does not appear to be because there are proportionally more vulnerable road users in Britain than in other countries…if anything, there are proportionally fewer vulnerable road users in Britain than in other countries.’
PACTS executive director David Davies said: ‘This report by leading transport safety consultants TRL shows that, over the past 10 years, the UK has been second to Sweden in the league table of fewest deaths per head of population. However, deaths among pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are noticeably greater in the UK.
‘The report highlights a number of areas where the UK could do better. Perhaps surprisingly, new cars in the UK have, on average, lower safety ratings than cars in other top performing countries. More worrying is that the average pedestrian protection rating for UK new cars is only 19th out of 28 European countries.
‘The Government needs to promote cars that are low on emissions and high on safety, including pedestrian protection. PACTS urges the public and private sectors to buy only the safest vehicles – those with a 5* safety rating.’
The report says that, measured against other leading countries, Sweden, Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland, Britain has:
- More vulnerable road user deaths per head of population (particularly pedestrians and motorcyclists), but no evidence of higher levels of activity (exposure)
- A higher ratio of 18-24 year old road user deaths relative to other age groups, possibly reflecting the lower driving age limit in the UK;
- A higher proportion of deaths on roads with speed limits of 60mph and above
- More deaths per unit length of motorway. Although this is not adjusted for vehicle miles, it still indicates where investment may have greatest benefit
- Lower Euro NCAP safety ratings for new cars
- Euro NCAP pedestrian protection scores which are only 19th out of 28 European countries.