New transport secretary Grant Shapps is facing calls to make road safety a priority after new statistics showed little change in the number of people killed on Britain’s roads every year.
However, the overall number of casualties fell to the lowest level on record.
According to Reported road casualties in Great Britain: main results 2018, published by the Department for Transport, a total of 1,782 people were killed in reported road trafc accidents in Great Britain in 2018, compared to 1,793 in 2017.
Officials pointed out that this was similar to the level seen since 2012, which followed a period of substantial reduction in fatalities from 2006 to 2010. Accounting for change in traffic levels, the rate of fatalities per billion vehicle miles fell from 5.43 in 2017 to 5.38 in 2018.
The RAC’s head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said: ‘It should now be a priority for the new transport secretary to get these figures back on the right track and prevent more lives being needlessly lost on our roads.’
He added: ‘These statistics make for stark reading. In short, precious little progress has been made in reducing the number of fatalities on our roads for nearly a decade.
‘While it’s difficult to know if the removal of road casualty reduction targets and spending cuts in road safety advertising which occurred around this time have played a role here or not, we must now look to the future and hope the Government’s latest road safety proposals go some way towards improving things.'
The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) described the persistently high level of casualties as a ‘big challenge’ for Mr Shapps.
In 2018, 777 car occupants were killed (44% of road deaths), 454 pedestrians (25%), 354 motorcyclists (20%) and 99 pedal cyclists (6%). A total of 98 ‘other’ road users were killed.
There were 25,484 serious injuries in road traffic accidents reported to the police in 2018. Officials warned that ‘comparison of this figure with earlier years should be interpreted with caution due to changes in systems for severity reporting by some police forces’.
However, work by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on the effect of the introduction of new injury based reporting systems (CRASH and COPA) on the number of slight and serious injuries reported to the police, has allowed ‘experimental’ estimates to be produced of the level of slight and serious injuries as if all police forces were using injury-based reporting systems.
Both the unadjusted and adjusted statistics showed the number of people killed and seriously injured to have increased by 2% over the year. The number of people slightly injured fell by 8% on both measures.
There were a total of 160,378 casualties of all severities in reported road traffic accidents in 2018. Officials said this was 6% lower than in 2017 and the lowest level on record but added that this figure should also be treated with caution.