Road Safety News

Casualties down in 2012 - except for cyclists and drink driving

Thursday 26th September 2013

The DfT’s annual road casualty report confirms that in 2012 the number of casualties and fatalities fell for all types of road users except pedal cyclists.

With the exception of cyclists, the figures appear positive – but another concern is that provisional estimates suggest that the number of drink drive fatalities in 2012 increased by around 17%.

Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: 2012 Annual Report shows that in 2012 there were a total of 195,723 casualties of all severities in road accidents reported to the police (4% fewer than in 2011); 1,754 people were killed (8% fewer than 2011); and 23,039 were seriously injured (a 0.4% decrease).

The figures for road user types show that pedestrian fatalities fell by 7%, motorcycle fatalities fell by 9%, car occupant fatalities by 9%, and goods vehicle occupant fatalities remained the same as in 2011. However, the number of pedal cyclist fatalities increased to 118 in 2012, from 107 in 2011.

Provisional figures suggest that 280 people were killed in drink drive accidents in 2012, an increase of around 17% compared with 2011. Drink driving is estimated to account for 16% of all road deaths in Great Britain.

The DfT says its “best current estimate” derived from National Travel Survey data is that the total of number of road casualties in Great Britain annually, including those not reported to the police, is within the range 630,000 to 790,000 - with a central estimate of 710,000. This is based on data for the five-year period from 2008 to 2012.

While vehicle traffic levels remained broadly stable for the second year running, there was a small fall of 0.4% between 2011 and 2012.


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There is nothing wrong with the road infrastructure as it is, I cycle it all the time and have no problem negotiating junctions because I am trained in the use of the primary position and am confident. The problem lies with the attitude of car drivers towards vulnerable road users. 90% of the population are not cycle haters, but they simply are not concentrating when in control of their vehicle and, because most of the time, nothing happens they continue this slack behaviour until something does. The real answer is imposing decent sentences to people who hit cyclists. These people may well be "good citizens" that judges do not want to send to prison, but if someone is so incompetent when they are driving that they maim or kill a cyclist, then they should be simply banned for a minimum of 15 years to maximum of life. When drivers are then faced with this reality they will start waking up behind the wheel and taking care around pedestrians and cyclists. And then novice cyclists will be more likely to take to a bike and less frightened of being hit by a car, and cycling will increase. Equally, bikeability should be taught in schools on a "one week every 6 months" basis (or even one hour a week) from age 11 to 16, to embed good behaviours in our children when cycling, improve their confidence and give them a sense of responsibility towards other road users, so that when they do eventually learn to drive that good behaviour carries through. Start this now and you will see a strong change in attitudes within a few years.
Antonia Dennis, Solihull West Mids

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I don't think we can simply compare ourselves to the likes of Netherlands and Germany as people repeatedly seem to do when we discussing cycling.

Firstly, large parts of those countries were effectively carpet bombed during WW2 and rebuilt (often by the British) to include infrastructure for cycling. There was an opportunity to future proof the system with many new roads and links of a better design. Here in the UK, many locations are stuck with road alignments that go back to Roman times and the approach for decades from the government in terms of funding is to be able to tinker around the edges and apply some paint and signage. Even during years when the economy was stronger, capital funding on transport has been a drop in the ocean compared to other parts of Europe and we may never catch up unless we have a government that takes transport as seriously as health and education.

Secondly, after watching a programme about a British family that went to experience life and work in Germany (I forget the name) it is clear that cultural attitudes towards observing and obeying rules is very different (I include both drivers and cyclists in that observation). If we want to change for the better then we need to start educating children about transport at a very early age.
Nadeem Mohammed, Greater Manchester.

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Steve, I have been a two wheeler for most of my life. Some 50 years or more on the roads so I know a little about vulnerability and yes your last paragraph is perfectly correct. I have to every day consider my position on our roads and understand my vulnerability, not that I need telling about it but I am being told basically that it's my fault and that I should take more care. It's there every second. I have to alter my way along a street adjusting my behaviour every second to compensate for the stupid and irresponsible actions of others, be they on 4 wheels or indeed on bicycles, so no one need tell me that there is something wrong. I know there is. I belong to that vulnerable and minority group that is the motorcyclist. Unfortunately not every one has had the experience that I have had and so can't comment from that perspective.

I feel sorry that cyclists are now being put at that risk. We have never developed the infrastructure that would cope with many cyclists as have other nations abroad and it will take a total change of attitude or fierce legislation in order to accommodate them.
bob craven Lancs

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Trying to create roads that are "safe for all road users" is all well and good, but isn't the biggest problem the behaviour of some of the road users themselves? I think modern road layouts are as good as they can be, but it is impossible to completely design out the potential for conflict between the vulnerable and not so vulnerable users, or achieve segregation. We still therefore come back to getting the wheeled road users to accept greater responsibilty for their actions and behave accordingly. It is not inevitable that a cyclist and a car sharing the same road together will result in calamity -it depends on the individual rider and driver surely?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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The solution isn't to blame the victims and make them wear full body armour. The solution would be to create roads that are safe for all users, not that prioritise motor vehicle journey times over the lives of vulnerable road users.

If you took the time to look across the North Sea to our European neighbours, you would see countries with higher cycling rates, lower casualty rates because they have much more sensible road designs.

If you insist on vulnerable road users having to adjust their behaviour to compensate for poor driving, then surely something is wrong here?
Steve, Merseyside

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It is recommended that a motorcyclist rides fully dressed in a coat of armour due to his vulnerability, whilst most KSIs occur in rural roads most injuries occur on urban roads.

However, very little, actually no protection is considered for cyclists. Other than a helmet with very limited ability to mitigate any serious head injury. Injuries caused at any reasonable speed (say 20 mph both vehicles head on or over a car's bonnet or into the side of a bus) or collisions with hard objects such as street furniture or the road surface.

We are encouraging ordinary people to put themselves at risk for what, to save the planet from so called dangerous gasses. I hope those that support and encourage such dangerous behaviour will look to their consciences and realise just what they are doing.

The death and serious injury toll will continue to rise proportionate with the increases in cyclists on our roads. Unless we have total segregation.
bob craven Lancs

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I have had a quick look at the stats for pedal cyclist casualties per billion miles cycled in Great Britain and they do generally follow the upwards trend in cyclist casualties.

There were 1,077 pedal cyclist KSIs per billion miles cycled in 2012 compared to 916 in 2008, and 6,158 total pedal cyclist casualties per billion miles cycled in 2012 compared to 5,820 in 2008.

There was a slight drop in the rate of both total and KSI casualties from 2008 to 2009, and a fall in the rate of total pedal cyclist casualties from 2011 to 2012, but aside from that there has been a year on year rise in the rate of pedal cyclist casualties when allowing for the increase in miles cycled.
Peter Slater, North East Regional Road Safety Resource

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If pro-cycling campaigning and indeed the recession and cost of driving have all resulted in more cycling activity, do they alone more than account for the increase in casualties? I have not yet had time to study the detailed figures, but does anyone know the number that properly indicates risk, the year-on-year change cycle casualties per km?
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

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Always good when fatalities decrease. Very worrying news re cyclists. No room for complacency.
Alasdair Brooks, Hertfordshire

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See the analysis and charts of casualties at national, local authority and police authority at:
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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Sorry to be cynical but whilst 2012 was a good year with fewer deaths/serious injuries and indeed less monies to spend on road safety than ever before and fewer static speed cameras. This was good news particularly so for motorcyclists, however it was an atrocious year weather wise with little or no summer at all.

We will have to wait and see what the brilliant summer has to be responsible for 2013 won't we? Definitely fewer KSI in the wet spring.
Bob Craven Lancs

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