Road Safety News

Road deaths rise in 2016: stakeholder reaction

Thursday 28th September 2017

Today's announcement that road deaths increased in 2016 to their highest level for five years has produced a flurry of reaction from concerned road safety organisations, including Road Safety GB.

The DfT statistics show there were 1,792 reported road deaths in 2016, a year-on-year rise of 4% - and the highest annual road deaths total since 2011.

The DfT describes the increase as ‘statistically insignificant’ and says ‘it is likely that that natural variation in the figures explains the change’.

However, road safety organisations have expressed almost universal concern - not least because new casualty data reporting systems appear to have compromised the quality of information, leading Richard Owen from Road Safety Analysis to describe the 2016 KSI figures as 'meaningless'.

Read stakeholder reaction from:

Stakeholder reaction

Road Safety GB
Road Safety GB says it is important to understand the reasons why fatalities rose in 2016 and in turn establish new policies and practices to resume progress on bringing casualties down.

Iain Temperton, director of communications, said: "It is worrying that we are seeing a reversal in the gains we have made in previous years; clearly we need to understand the reasons for this and establish policy and practice to resume progress in reducing casualties.  

"We cannot function without a robust data set, in a time when every penny counts all road safety interventions must be based upon evidence, research and best practice.

"There is significant concern within our profession that the introduction of new casualty data reporting systems have compromised the quality of information at both a local and national level. We hope that the current issues around reporting can be quickly and effectively resolved."

Road Safety Analysis
In a blog post analysing the statistics, Road Safety Analysis has highlighted the inconsistencies in casualties classified as ‘seriously injured’ brought around by the change in the way they are reported.

Richard Owen, operations director, said: "One significant issue that all of us are going to have to deal with is the fact that our national, and in many case local, KSI figures are now meaningless for 2016.

"With many authorities such as Highways England and Transport for London adopting KSI targets, what are the next steps? Well, using the ‘all casualties’ data is one option but ultimately a set of correction factors will need to be applied.

"The DfT will almost certainly have to do this for 2016 and 2017 (when the rest of the forces should switch to CRASH), but how can individual forces and highway authorities do this on their own data? We have some ideas of how this can be done and will be talking to fellow analysts, and the DfT stats team about how this can be expedited to bring confidence in KSI analysis.

"It's not all doom-and-gloom though, remember, the change in injury classification systems means we are now starting to get better information – something that has been a worry for some time. Comparing STATS19 against hospital statistics has always shown under-reporting by the police."

Road safety charity Brake says the figures 'graphically illustrate the daily carnage taking place on roads across Britain' and is calling for the creation of a road collision investigation branch.

Jason Wakeford, Brake's director of campaigns for Brake, said: "On average, five people continue to lose their lives each and every day - a deeply worrying figure which has not improved for some six years.

"Progress on road safety has stalled, pressing the need for a road collision investigation branch, similar to those already in existence for air, rail and sea, so that lessons can be learned to prevent future crashes.

"Only through in-depth investigation, at a national level, can solutions be found to stem the needless deaths on the roads every day."

The RAC says the Government needs to redouble its efforts to ensure that progress is once again made to bring road deaths down.

Pete Williams, RAC road safety spokesman, said: “Every road user, and certainly all of those working to improve road safety, will view today’s figures with dismay. While the statisticians say the rise isn’t significant, every life lost on our roads is surely one too many.

“The report clearly states that ‘there is unlikely to be as large falls in casualties as there were earlier on without further significant interventions’. This is surely an admission that more could, and should, be done to save lives.

“Away from government a lot of organisations are working hard to improve road safety – from the internationally-focused Project EDWARD, the FIA’s #ParkYourPhone campaign, through to countless campaigns by charities and local authorities and even the RAC’s own Be Phone Smart campaign.

"These can all have a tangible impact on future road casualty numbers, but there is absolutely no question that the Government needs to redouble its efforts to ensure that progress is once again made to bring road deaths down. This includes giving its THINK! campaign the resources it needs to play a much greater role in doing this."

IAM RoadSmart 
IAM RoadSmart says it is disappointed in the increase in road deaths – adding that drivers 'must take responsibility' for their safety.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “Road safety in the UK seems to be bumping along the floor with yet another year without improvement in key fatal and serious injury statistics.

“With six years without progress it is clear that we have an increasingly complex picture of good news such as safer cars and investment in new roads, being cancelled out by more traffic and a hard core of human behaviour issues that are the most difficult to tackle. 

“Road safety is everyone’s responsibility and it is clear that working in partnership to promote it is the key to returning to long term downward trends. Accelerating the uptake of AEB (autonomous emergency braking) equipped cars and promoting best practice in driving for work are just two examples where quick gains could be made.”

The Transport Research Laboratroy (TRL) says the increase in road casualties reinforces the need for the establishment of a UK Road Collision Investigation Branch.

Richard Cuerden, TRL’s academy director, said: "We are very disappointed to see that road casualties increased in 2016 and this further motivates our multi-disciplinary team of psychologists, engineers and scientists to improve our understanding of these events, so future tragedies can be prevented. 

“The increase in road casualties reinforces the need for the establishment of a UK Road Collision Investigation Branch to gather and make available better data to provide the evidence base to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on our roads.

"Every single person killed on our roads represents a tragedy and it is imperative that road safety is given the same level of attention as that of air and rail."

RoSPA says the increase in the number of vulnerable road users being killed on Britain’s roads shows a need for a renewed push for safety.

Nick Lloyd, RoSPA’s road safety manager, said: “When there’s an increase in traffic with economic growth, generally casualty statistics do tend to go up, but this in no way justifies these shocking figures.

“Britain traditionally has one of the best road safety records in the world, but we must focus our efforts through effective education, engineering and enforcement if we are to make our roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

“These statistics demonstrate the need for motorists to be extra vigilant when travelling during school-run hours – young children can be impulsive, so there is a need to be constantly aware of what’s happening around the car. More than 90 per cent of road crashes involve human error, which demonstrates the need for drivers to concentrate at all times, watch their speed, and avoid distractions.

“We also urge parents to kit their children out in high-visibility gear for the school journey, especially as the nights are now drawing in.”

GEM Motoring Assist
GEM Motoring Assist has warned the Government that specific action is needed in order to revitalise casualty reduction.

Neil Worth, GEM's road safety officer, said: “We will no doubt hear a minister explaining that Britain has some of the safest roads in the world. But the truth is that our roads are considerably less safe than they were six years ago, and that is very worrying.

“We urge the Government to accept that these figures are deeply troubling. With support from the highest levels of Government, we know that far more lives could be saved. So let’s waste no time in investigating thoroughly why each death has occurred.

"Let’s also accept that we can do so much more to protect new drivers. For that to happen, we need to be willing to learn from countries who have successfully implemented graduated driver licensing schemes."

TyreSafe has welcomed the slight decrease in casualties caused by tyre-related incidents in 2016, but is urging drivers and stakeholders to continue their efforts and not become complacent.  

Stuart Jackson, chairman of TyreSafe, said: “While it is, of course, welcome to see the number of casualties from tyre-related incidents decreasing, however slight, there are potentially thousands of families who have been affected. While maintenance checks won’t guarantee your safety, the chances of being involved in an incident will be significantly reduced if they’re carried out regularly.

“Tyre safety is often taken for granted. Nobody expects to be a road casualty when they set off – check your tyres are roadworthy before you leave to reduce the risks.”  

Category: Statistics & data, General news.


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The tread is only there to displace surface water Bob not to give better grip. If it never ever rained, we'd be all be legitimately driving around on bald tyres as in motor racing, except they have the facility to switch to treaded tyres in moments, as and when necessary. It's a misconception that a 7mm tread will somehow give better grip than a 1.5mm tread - in wet weather yes obviously, but only because the extra depth will help displace the water and more importantly, only when the vehicle is subjected to extreme forces very sudden and hard braking or cornering which as I've already said, is down to the driver and does not constitute everyday driving. One could drive around all day without incident on bald, under-inflated tyres but, just for the record, I'm not advocating it.

By the way, I've read of two coroners' verdicts where an under inflated tyre was deemed to be the 'cause' of two fatal crashes, based on what the investigating officer said - no other primary cause was mentioned as if it was all the fault of the poor under inflated tyre and not the driver.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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Nice one Hugh. There is a saying that ignorance is bliss and you are actually using that argument to support your statements. Unbelievable. It is well established in road safety that a bald tyre is a dangerous one. One doesn't have to be bald but instead of having say 7mm of tread the tyre has only 1.5mm then its a danger especially when emergency braking as it is on record that such tyres take longer to stop a car. I would suggest therefore that it is something your drivers should be fully aware of and further that in wet weather or rather a wet road situation then the latter tyre will not give the same amount of safe grip compared to one with plenty of tread.

When it comes to incidents it may be that under stats a police officer will put down the major cause as say inappropriate speed as it lost control on the bend, but he may or may not also endorse the stats that a contributory factor could be bald tyres or dangerous ones or illegal ones.

It is never there as merely an excuse or convenience for the investigating officer.
Bob Craven Lancs

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I would suggest Bob, that if some drivers are driving round with 'dangerous' tyres (as you describe them) and are unaware of it, it's because their driving is smooth enough and controlled enough for the tyre condition (low tread and pressure) not to be relevant and nothing in the vehicles's behaviour will have prompted the driver to think 'Oops close one - I must check the tyres!' (apart from ride comfort possibly).

I'd still like to know of any incidents where tyre condition was actually relevant to a KSI incident and how that was established by the investigators. A crashed car found to have low tyre pressure(s) does not mean that was a factor, convenient though it might be for the investigators to say so.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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Hugh surely there is a misquote sitution in your argument.

What you should haver said is: ' There is something wrong with some drivers if they don't bother to check their tyres regularly and continue to drive with them in a dangerous and possibly unlawful state.

By their woeful neglect of responsibility they and others are being killed and seriously injured on our roads today. Tyres wear out and or are subject to abuse but some drivers just dont give a dam. Not until they fail the MOT that shows them that they are committing an offence. The vast majority of drivers will not change tyres unless they a have failed their MOT. Unfortunately for some that could be too late when the tyre grip is asked for and found not to be there.
Bob Craven Lancs

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My point exactly Matt - it's drivers foolishly putting themselves in situations where they are unnecessarily subjecting their vehicles tyres to forces which would push the tyres gripping abilities to the limit which, in normal everyday driving, should not happen. There's something wrong with some people's driving if tyre condition becomes that crucial. The incidences you have witnessed I would suggest reflect nothing more than poor driving.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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A final reply from me to avoid this descending into a two party argument.

You seem to be deliberately misinterpreting the points being made. We all see poor driving and the potential and real consequences of this.

Your suggestion that a tyre with no tread and half its pressure will stay on the road is farcical for real life driving. Tyres are subject to great demands on them in even normal driving. Your evidence for this is that you donít see drivers struggling because of their tyres. Well, I have seen many instances of drivers that couldnít control their vehicles because their tyres failed them due to low pressure, low tread, damage etc in circumstances where good tyres would have coped with the demands placed on them. We accept that people sometimes get things wrong and good tyres will deal with that and prevent a collision and injury.
Matt Pickard Derbyshire County Council

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Let's get it straight about the lack or reduction of traffic officers now on duty. To my understanding, out of a complement of some 5000+ officers a number of years ago, there has been a reduction of about 25% (to about 4000 in total).

Putting that in perspective and looking at it pragmatically, those lost 1,000 or so would have been on a three shift system meaning that there would be cover 24/7 - so that reduces the numbers per shift to about 330.

Then take off leave, illness, training, court appearances etc. and one may come to realise that we are only losing about 250 police officers at any one time in the whole of the UK. If we distribute them among say 50 police forces it only comes down to a reduction of 5 officers per force. In an area as large as say Greater Manchester of some 250 sq. miles that is a small loss.

What we have lost however is some 20,000 front line officers to give us the lowest police figures for decades - since the 1960/70s. This is in no way compensated by the some 16,000 PCOs who have no powers to report traffic offenders and help maintain law and order and road safety as it should be done.
Bob Craven Lancs

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One of the underlying causes is the truly dreadful standard of driver training. Most instructors are quite inadequate for the role, being poorly educated, poorly trained, poorly motivated, and simply just out of their depth!

To have a fundamental change to driver training in the country needs a massive overhaul, which can only come about by importing experts from Scandinavian, Dutch and German training academies / training establishments.
Name supplied

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But the tyres don't cause the vehicle to accelerate, decelerate in all weathers Matt - the driver does. The tyres in themselves can't be the primary cause of problems in what I would call normal everyday driving - something will have already have had to be going wrong, in which case other parts of the vehicle such as brake condition are just as relevant. On an everyday basis, I don't see drivers struggling to control their vehicles because of their tyres - I do see lots of speeding, driving too close, risk-taking etc. all of which lead to situations where the tyre condition could be relevant and situations were even brand new tyres, correctly inflated, won't prevent a collision. Let's not blame vehicle condition for incidents which the drivers created!
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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RSA say "In late 2015 and 2016 around half of all police forces switched over to one of the two new systems which is likely to have caused almost all of the 8% jump in serious injuries between 2015 and 2016."

Anyone have any thoughts on those POLICE Force Areas not using CRASH that still experienced modest increases? Can't blame it all on the IT!
Nadeem Up North

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Whether or not Neil sells tyres or not his points are still valid.

Gravity is the force that acts on the car to Ďpullí it to the road surface. If the car was stationary or moving in a steady state then the tyres might not be that important. But cars accelerate, decelerate, go round corners experiencing lateral forces. They do this in all weathers when the roads are wet, icy, snowy, or in poor condition. Thatís when the tyres condition is crucial to keeping a vehicle on the road, no ones talking about it floating away just keeping it travelling safely.

Regardless of whether or not the tyre suffers a catastrophic failure, poor condition does contribute to collisions and Iíd argue from my experience is under reported and understated.
Matt Pickard. Derbsyhire County Council

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You sound like a tyre salesman Neil!

It's gravity that keeps the vehicle on the road - not the tyres and even with no tread and half its pressure, the vehicle will still stay on the road and will not float away. Their role in collisions I feel is overstated which is why I questioned 'tyre-related- incidents' quoted by a tyre representative.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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I'd like to pick up two of the threads here if I may. First tyres are the only thing that are in connection with the road. In essence this means that there is an area no more than an equivalent to four palm prints keeping you on the road. Sadly people neglect their tyres and carry on driving on them when they are potentially dangerous through not having tread, being over or under inflated and potentially being damaged in some way. Having good tyres that are looked after and checked will help keep you safe on the roads. Ideally you should change your tyres when the tread gets to 3mm and never buy part-worn ones.

On the comments about Roads Policing I agree that the unprecedented reduction in the number of Roads Policing officer may very well have had an impact on these figures. Unfortunately this is something that won't be quantified but policy makers should consider the number of people being killed or seriously injured on our roads everyday before making further cuts to this vital area of policing.
Neil, Sussex

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It would take a heck of a lot of police vehicles on the road to influence collision prevention David - in fact one could say there would never be enough.

Also, and referring to the headline specifically highlighting an increase in fatalities, once a collision has occurred, it is beyond the control of the police as to whether people die or are injured.

A significant decrease in collisions in parallel with, or following, a significant increase in police vehicles on the road may lead one to presume a positive link, but it would be impossible to prove I would think.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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I cannot help wondering whether the almost complete absence of dedicated Roads Police has anything to do with this regrettable increase.
David, Suffolk

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Road safety doesn't just need stakeholders, it needs to have central leadership. An organisation in charge of road safety, capable of delivering the changes that are needed to bring road safety delivery into the 21st Century!
Derek Hertfordshire

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A catastrophic tyre-failure is a bit more than a 'tyre-related incident' though David, I'm sure you'll agree. It's the phrase TyreSafe used however and I suspect they weren't just referring to instant blow-outs, which is why I questioned what they meant by tyre-related. All vehicles have tyres at the time they crash, so they're always related to the crash in a sense, but then so are the brakes. Perhaps they can tell us how many of the collisions which led to the KSI figures above were actually caused by catastrophic tyre failure or in what other way were they 'tyre-related incidents'.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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Well, tyres are much more likely to fail catastrophically than brakes, I'd suspect.
David Weston, Corby

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What's a tyre-related incident and why single those out? All moving vehicles have tyres. What about brake-related incidents? - more relevant in collision prevention I would have thought. What about 'hitting a tree at speed'-related incidents or 'Idiot in charge of a motor vehicle'-related incidents?

Let's also not forget to factor in flukes, chance and bad luck when looking at stats.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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