Road Safety News

IAM calls for urgent action on pedestrian safety

Wednesday 9th September 2015

The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) is calling for an “even greater focus” on pedestrian protection following a FOI request which revealed that nearly 18,000 pedestrians were injured in collisions involving vehicles in 2013.

The Freedom of Information (FOI) request asked for details of the most common pairs of contributory factors reported by police in 2013.

Police can record up to six contributory factors to explain why they think a crash took place, but the IAM says the top two give the “most obvious reasons for the incident”. 

In July the IAM reported that ‘failure to look properly’ and ‘failure to judge other person's path or speed’ was the biggest pairing of factors when it came to vehicles in collisions.

With regard to pedestrian casualties, ‘pedestrian failed to look properly’ with ‘pedestrian careless, reckless or in a hurry’ were named as factors in 4,100 casualty collisions - 23% of the overall total.

‘Pedestrian crossing road masked by stationary or parked vehicle’ with ‘pedestrian failed to look properly’ accounted for 1,961 casualties (11%).

‘Pedestrian failed to judge vehicle’s path or speed’ with ‘pedestrian careless, reckless or in a hurry’ caused 1,204 casualties (7%), while ‘pedestrian crossing road masked by stationary or parked vehicle’ with ‘pedestrian careless, reckless or in a hurry’ was responsible for 1,013 casualties (6%).

The IAM is calling for a range of measures to protect pedestrians including making pedestrian safety a bigger factor in vehicle design, and a long-term engineering programme to deliver safer roads in the UK.

Sarah Sillars, IAM chief executive officer, said: “Pedestrian fatalities are rising faster than any other group right now so it is vital that drivers are more sympathetic and aware of pedestrians when they make their journeys.

“There is no need to blame any party when it comes to how to reduce the numbers of people killed and injured on our roads – all road users need to look out for each other and ensure we minimise the impact of our own and others unpredictable behaviour."


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Just come back from a working holiday in north Wales looking at the difficulties they have their with regard to motorcycle safety.

Rod in answer to your first enquiry I believe I answered that or those points in other threads. I can only presume that you may have been on holiday. In a number of other threads during that time I have expressed what my concerns are about and how they can be easily rectified. Basically my answer to your question is YES and NO. As you can appreciate there are many facets to road safety and many instances where the giving of an increased allowance of space can be of benefit to all road users. Oneself and all others.

In answer to the question how this relates to the elderly or young, the most vulnerable on our roads, then the answer is as part of a combined effort to reduce casualties then yes it does. At least in as much or if not more than your efforts by statutory legislation to reduce the legal speed limit within certain areas of a conurbation and apparently making some streets safe for the young to play out in and not stopping traffic from using those roads or streets at the same time?

PS. I do apologise for my mistake in the first paragraph of my response to you about your blaming of drivers. What I meant to say was your suggestion that driver are possibly or probably to blame. I did say that there was a lot of presumption on your part.
Bob Craven lancs...Space is Safe Campaigner

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Yes, that's another question you could ask. Especially given the limited reliability of children and elderly assessing speed through "looming".

But my question surely needs answering from yourself from a "Space is safe" perspective. Is the "space" you recommend fixed or does it vary with the prevailing speed of the vehicles and the risks within the immediate vicinity?

Note that I am not trying to make any particular point, but just to understand what you campaign for.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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Problem is Duncan that in so many community streets the frequency of cars is such that children will never get to cross the road if they wait for there to be no cars.

Couple this with their inability to reliably asses the speed of vehicles above 20mph (in common with elderly) then what we need is a regime of Look, Listen and Stop for drivers so that they Look out for children, Listen to their "better side" and Stop to allow them to cross the road.

And if we can start to create an environment that has more empathy with vulnerable road users then maybe the number of cars on the road can decrease as well.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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The Green Cross Code tells us that the recommended protocol for crossing the road is to Stop-Look-Listen. What people do in the real world however is to reverse that process and use Listen-Look-Stop instead. The latter protocol is a much better efficiency/thoroughness trade-off as that makes much better use of the time and resources available.

If every driver has been brought up to think that every pedestrian uses Stop-Look-Listen then it's no wonder they are surprised when pedestrians use Listen-Look-Stop.

This is a classic example of the profound difference between work as imagined (WAI) and work as done (WAD). The following presentation explains this in more detail.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (1) | Disagree (4)

Rob asks about speed. Might not a similar question be asked of a pedestrian of looking and assessing the oncoming speed and trajectory of anything approaching their chosen path? As these are the two most common elements of a collision.
Derek Reynolds, Salop.

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I can't see the word "blame" or anything like it in my comment. I simply suggested something that "often" happens.

If I may perhaps I can ask a question about your "space is safe" idea. Would you consider that the "space" required is in any way related to the prevailing speed?
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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This press release and the associated comments illustrate how little is understood about the accident causation process. Finding out why there is such a lack of understanding would go a long way towards solving the overall problem.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

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Whilst 'calling for urgent action on pedestrian safety' might be a laudable plea, who were the IAM expecting to take this action? Why not themselves? Their raison d'etre is supposed to be safer driving - what techniques do they promote amongst their members and prospective members, to guarantee that they don't collide with peds and perhaps they could publicise this rather than simply asking for other authorities/agencies to do so. What 'action' do they envisage?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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I notice in you last sentence you blame the motorists for every pedestrian injured just because the pedestrian walked into space. You then blame the motorists because of their speed, lack of concentration or lack of reaction. There are a lot of presumptions there on your part without any evidence to back the statement up at all.

Hows about increasing the width of pavements so that there is only room for one vehicle each way on the highway and no overtaking can take place. Then reduce that pavement space considerably by the installation of a two way cycle track, painted a different colour of course and also of a different road texture so that blind or otherwise disabled persons can know what it is and keep off it. Then maybe we will have safer roads.

The vast majority of incidents concerning pedestrians are of them walking/running into the path of a vehicle and not of the vehicle mounting the pavement to run over unsuspecting pedestrians. In those circumstances they are primarily to blame for their own demise and not the vehicle driver.

If drivers adopted the Space is Safe understanding of driving, then more distance would be given between vehicles and therefore drivers and crossing pedestrians have more time to see and avoid each other. It needs space and not what maybe described as just a mere gap.
Bob Craven Lancs...Space is Safe Campaigner

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Please don't misquote me. I didn't decry "looking out". What I decried was an approach whereby IAM were ignoring lower speeds, better crossing provision, wider pavements, presumed liability and all the other things which make for a far friendlier and safer urban environment for pedestrians.

Couple that with a language that seems to spin "people being hit by vehicles" into "pedestrians injured in collisions involving vehicles" then there is much to decry in this press release.

People don't walk into walls very often because they are stationary and they can take last second avoiding action. In the case of pedestrians they often walk into "space" and then get hit by a vehicle who's driver is unable to take avoiding action due to their speed, lack of concentration or lack of reaction.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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Pedestrians can be unpredictable, however they will rarely, if ever be moving faster than the vehicle which could hit them. Also, they do not beam down from outer space on to the c/way, as in Star Trek, therefore the driver should always be able to avoid contact. If not, regardless of what the pedestrian did, the police must allocate ultimate responsibility to the driver (unless exceptionally it can be proved otherwise) and the sooner drivers accept this strict liability concept, the sooner we should see an improvement in driver behaviour - certainly in urban areas.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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Per Rod, who seems to decry 'looking out for each other'. Road safety isn't rocket science. People don't walk into walls often, because they look. They don't trip down stairs often, because they look and pay attention. All we're asking is that pedestrians and drivers look and pay attention. Eliminating all road injury is easy: eliminate road use, and the 20 initiative goes one third of the way to achieving that, without addressing pedestrian inattention (or the less common driver inattention). Until pedestrians are treated as road users and held accountable, they will not treat road use as a serious matter, nor will organisations press to see them appropriately trained.
Andrew Mather, Kent

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Dave Finney (4 posts below) is correct to say that the table is now available to all. It had not been updated since 2010 and we asked via an FoI for it to be updated. DfT then put it on line just as we went to use the information. An unfortunate juxtaposition from our viewpoint but we do feel it's a useful data source that should be kept up to date. Looking at the most common pairs just further underlines the role of human error for all road users.

Neil Greig, IAM Policy and Research
Neil Greig, IAM

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What I note is that IAM only focus on the "contributory" factors in the collisions as reported on the Stats 19. Whereas they will know that the causation and avoidance of a collision is dependent upon many other factors which are often completely unknown to the reporting policeman. The final paragraph seems to imply that simply "looking out for each other" is their suggested solution.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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I'm not sure why the IAM chose to focus on most common pairs, which is a secondary aspect, rather than on the primary failure, which for pedestrians is listed in RAS50004, with figures for 'failed to look properly' of 59%-61%. It does not specify a figure for within pedestrian fatalities only, whence the need to go to the underlying data for an accurate measure, though scaling up from the RRCGB 2013 figures via the percentage of pedestrian casualties/fatalities gives an approximation.
Andrew Mather, Kent

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We have alerted IAM to your comments and invited them to respond.
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News

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Did the IAM really use FOI, or did they just take the information straight from the DfT website? Either way, they seem to have made a mistake. Here's the DfT page that includes the DfT spreadsheet:

From there download file ras50006.xls. There it is, all the data that the IAM have "uncovered" is available for everyone to view. Are the IAM aware that they have missed out the 2nd highest pairing on the DfT spreadsheet (2497 collisions)?

If any organisation, whether government, commercial, charity or independent, wishes to create publicity, they really should double-check their facts, and be honest. The problem, though, seems to be that the journalists and media organisations never seem to scrutinise what they're told. Press releases seem to go straight into the mainstream and we then wonder why even officials, let alone the public, sometimes seem so ill-informed.
Dave Finney, Slough

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I am quite surprised that the IAM haven't got a training scheme for pedestrians that they can put forward at say £50 for half a day's instruction. That seems like the going rate. Discounts for under 16 year olds obviously. Or maybe introduce this into the Advanced Motoring Courses that they presently and frequently do.
Bob Craven Lancs...Space is Safe Campaigner

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Per Brenda, I could give you statistics on every one of those 'never' categories that you quote, or you could put in an FOI request of your own, sign an agreement as to appropriate use of the contributory factors data, and do the research. If road safety targeted pedestrians, it would save lives.
Andrew Mather, Kent

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Brenda's comment is way off the mark, and the article itself considerably understates pedestrian factors in their own injuries. Having studied that year in considerable detail, pedestrian failed to look is involved in 63% of casualties, 48% of fatalities, with driver failed to look in 25% and 28% respectively. Read online articles in court cases and you'll see a telling phrase 'in the road for between 0.5 to 1.5 seconds depending whether they were walking or running'. Pedestrians stepping directly into the stopping distance of a vehicle eliminate any chance of avoiding the accident. If there is any bias in road safety it is strongly in favour of the pedestrian, with drivers made to driver ever more slowly, and pedestrians never held accountable for their actions.
Andrew Mather, Kent

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Cleverly worded comment Brenda! Could be interpreted either way.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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Wrap them in bubble wrap, fit flashing lights to them and proximity alarms - and remove earplugs and hand held communication devices.
Derek Reynolds, Salop.

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The police reports demonstrate constant unconscious bias against pedestrians and in favour of motorists.

None of the collisions seem to be the responsibility of motorists. Pedestrians just fly out and throw themselves into the paths of responsible, law abiding motorists who drive appropriately for the conditions, never speed, have their attention fully focused on the road ahead, are never distracted, never chat to fellow passengers, never use their mobile phone or any electronic device while driving. In short motorists are exemplary people and pedestrians are careless, irresponsible louts and the less we have of them the better.
Brenda Puech, Hackney

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Different organisations have different procedures and I think it is a shame that some organisations appear to force every one asking for information into this narrow procedure. Revealing information by means of a "Freedom of information request" is more dramatic and an eye catching opening to an article but it can also suggest the information is being withheld in some way. Whilst it is good to outline these issues and this article has certainly caught my attention there is a vast amount of information readily available without resorting to information requests. I thought I had seen this information before and a quick search of the web revealed it to be Table RAS50006 published by the Department for Transport in June 2015.
Steven Cross, Leicestershire

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Did it really need a FOI enquiry to tell us this? Hardly an earth-shatterimg revelation.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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