The latest figures for road casualties recently released by the Department for Transport (DfT) show an encouraging continuation of the downward trend in the number of people killed or seriously injured on the roads in 2013. The total number of casualties in road accidents reported to the police in 2013 fell to 183,670 while the number of road deaths fell 2% to 1,713, the lowest figures since national records began in 1926.
The number of people seriously injured also fell by 6% to 21,657 while the number of pedal cyclist deaths fell to 109. This figure has remained in the region of 100 to 120 for the past six years, so whether this shows a downward trend or regular fluctuations is unclear. More worryingly, the number of drink drive fatalities remain almost unchanged at 230.
William Broadbent, personal injury solicitor at Penningtons Manches, commented: “It is good news that the figures continue to fall and road safety organisations must be commended for their continuing efforts. Organisations like Brake and Roadpeace have run excellent campaigns this year and these do seem to be making a difference. That said, the figures are still too high and there is a lot more work to be done.
“Behind the headline figures, there are some road users who are at a disproportionate risk and steps must be taken to improve figures in these areas. Cyclists are particularly at risk and, while there have been a number of campaigns to improve their safety, it is unclear whether they have led to any significant changes to date. Drivers and cyclists must heed the warnings and ensure that they pay attention and remain vigilant to other road users, especially now the nights are drawing in.
“There are also alarming statistics regarding country roads, where there were almost 11 times as many deaths as on motorways. As there are many more journeys on country roads, there is more exposure to risks but there is also an air of complacency on country roads. The speeds may be lower but, with oncoming traffic, the overall impact speed is likely to be far higher.
“It is also worrying that there is no change in the number of drink driving deaths and there is also an increase in drug driving. Drivers must realise the risks and take responsibilities for their actions. Road traffic collisions don’t just happen to other people.”