Road Safety News

Report pinpoints areas for improvement in Britainís road safety record

Wednesday 21st September 2016

A new report has highlighted that Britain consistently has one of the lowest rates of road deaths worldwide, but fares less well when it comes to the safety of vulnerable road users and in other specific areas.

Produced by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and published by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), the report says that over the past decade Britain has been second only to Malta in the road safety league table.

Focussing specifically on 2015, Britain was third in the list of countries with the fewest road deaths per head of the population, after Norway and Sweden. The report also shows that in the same year Britain had fewer vehicle occupant deaths per head of population than all other countries.

The report compares UK casualty figures to those of the other top performing countries around the world such as Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and Holland. It has been produced to provide an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of Britain’s road safety performance, and to recommend where future investment should be directed.

Despite the overall positivity, the report highlights that Britain falls behind in terms of casualty rates among vulnerable road users, young drivers and on roads where the speed limit is 60mph and above.

Combining pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, there are 13 deaths per million miles travelled in Britain, compared to 10 in Sweden and 11 in Holland. There is also no evidence of higher levels of exposure which might account for the higher casualty rates.

Looking at speed limits, 50% of Britain’s road deaths happen on roads with a speed limit of 60mph and above. This compares to 30% in Sweden, 20% in Holland and 10% in both Switzerland and Denmark.

Britain also has 27 deaths per 1,000km of motorway, compared to 22 in Holland, 11 in Sweden and 10 in Denmark.

The report also pinpoints a higher ratio of 18-24 year-old road user deaths relative to other age groups. However, it does acknowledge that this could be attributed to the lower driving age limit in the UK.

In terms of vehicles, 88% of new cars in Britain have Euro NCAP 5 star safety rating, behind Sweden (92%) and Norway (93%). And with regard to Euro NCAP pedestrian protection scores Britain is lagging 19th out of 28 European countries.

David Davies, executive director of PACTS, said: “It is often said that Britain’s roads are among the safest in the world. But do we have the safest roads, the safest vehicles or the safest road users by comparison with other high performing countries?

“Are there areas where, comparatively speaking, Britain could do better and where investment and effort might be best concentrated?  

“This 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 the average pedestrian protection rating for UK new cars.

“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.”  



Comment on this story
Report a reader comment

What's your view - comment on this story:

I confirm that I have read and accept the moderation policy and house rules relating to comments posted on this website.
Your comment:
Your name and location:
Your email:

As with four-wheeled drivers Bob, there are some who will resist any form of training or education because they think it is beneath them and they don't need it because they are 'skilled enough already'! Those who are serious and concientous enough to undertake training are paradoxically least likely to need it anyway. The authorities do what they can in terms of opportunities, but they can't force individuals to self-improve.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

I was just highlighting the fact that if more of a concerted and national effort is put into training both of motorcyclists and other road users by roads safety professionals supported by other interested parties - manufacturers, retailers, insurers, emergency services, companies etc, then we would not suffer so much carnage on our roads.

I will say this - and I know that I will receive many a 'Disagree' on this one - that over the last 20 or 30 years those in authority, and I am naming no particular authority, have failed to realise that individually they cannot do enough to stop the carnage but as one entity and with a cohesive policy, then and only then can the carnage be reduced. We are merely putting sticking plasters on to the wound hoping that it will heal but not preventing the cause.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

Just highlighting the fact that objectively, motorcycling must be considered potentially the most risky form of road transport and the casualties associated with them should be expected and does not necessarily point to a shortcoming in the efforts of the authorities to keep road users safe.

Accepting that their riders are so vulnerable, why therefore are the bikes themselves made to be able to go so fast and is not that asking for trouble? If they were invented now, would they be allowed on the roads at all?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (2) | Disagree (1)

So what are you saying? Due to the apparent and obvious facts that you have mentioned are you maybe posing the question, why are we bothering with motorcyclists at all?

If, after all, they are only 1% or less of the motor using public but are responsible for something like 20% of all deaths and even more serious injuries, again proportionally in excess of those suffered by any of the other road users.

Who knows if ever we get it right and not place blame on them for just being we might just save many from suffering serious life changing injuries and nearly 400 from dying. That would be good for wouldn't it? After all they are a small group and the dangers are known and therefore if they had been trained better maybe those stats would show a steady decrease in deaths and injuries, but they don't and that rings alarm bells in me that tell me that we have got it historically and terribly wrong somewhere.

As suggested by the Joint Police and Motorcycle Manufacturers Association's most rescent paper, they agree that mistakes have been made and advocate a big overhaul and direction change in training.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

It is a fact though Bob, that motorcycles are the fastest motorised vehicles on the road in terms of acceleration and top speed, but at the same time their riders are the least protected and most vulnerable.

We sit cocooned in our metal-caged, four-wheeled vehicles with our air bags, seat belts etc. for our protection, but the biker which has just effortlessly overtaken us at a greater speed has nothing. Does that make sense? Any spill is going to hurt the rider to some degree and therefore will more likely to figure in casualty stats more so than had they been in a four-wheeled vehicle, so such stats should be expected and not be particularly remarkable.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

Hugh. It's not necessarily being fastest that causes the problems for motorcyclists. Approx 50% of all accidents involving them are collisions with other other vehicles usually at junctions and roundabouts and close to 70% occur in urban 30 mph situations. So fastest doesn't come anywhere within that equation. What you are correct about is vulnerability. Being just one of three extremely vulnerable road users together with pedestrians and cyclists. This is partly due to a lack of conspicuity and the inability of drivers to correctly assess the oncoming speed of such small vehicles. Something that occurs with cyclists also. Add to that a poor attitude to road safety, apathy and complacency and what you have is a recipe for disaster.

It is important that all motorcyclists, particularly young and inexperienced ones, are made aware of their increased vulnerability and instructed on driving techniques, more so within an urban riding situation that will alleviate many of the above problems, but as said that needs training in defensive riding techniques and not in so called advanced riding.

It's about time more was spent in this direction specifically and then we may see a better result in a reduction of the numbers killed or injured.

It also needs other drivers to be reminded of their vulnerability and the fact that they need to be a consideration at all times when driving.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

The last paragraph is potentially going to raise the risk threshold particularly among the 17-25 age group where the prefrontal cortex has not matured. With any active and passive systems we will feel safer in our vehicles and human nature being what it is we will push the boundaries in the belief that the safer vehicle will protect us.

The comment about there being lower safety rating for cars on U.K. roads than other countries may be due to the ability to replace cars with newer models with better active and passive safety systems.

I'm intrigued by the statement that we are 19/28 for pedestrian safety. So we are all buying EU spec cars so is this anomaly due to their being more older vehicles on U.K. roads?

This is raising more questions than it appears to be answering.
Nickolas Reeks

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

But then again, motorcyclists are the fastest, but also the most vulnerable road users - not an ideal combination for road casualty prevention. One would expect disproportionate casualties.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (0) | Disagree (3)

If you are looking at measures designed to reduce the acident/fatal rate amongst motorcyclists just look at or for the special offers this year by any of the training organisations......... This year they are particularly few and far between. In fact I dont think that the IAM as an example has been seen for more than 12 months. As one of the largest or maybe the largest training (sorry instructional, sorry advisory) organisationS in the UK it seems to me that since last year they have totally lost interest. We will have to wait and see if that is reflected in any increase in this years stats for motorcyclists.
Bob Craven Lancs.

Agree (4) | Disagree (8)