The Department for Transport has released its annual report on the number of accidents and deaths on the UK’s roads. The number of people killed has gradually declined over the last ten years. However, the number of deaths on our roads between 2015 and 2016 has suddenly increased by 4%. Are our roads becoming more dangerous?

Road deaths rise by 4%

According to the report, 1,792 people were killed in accidents during 2016. That’s, an increase of 4% on the previous year (though still a 6% decrease on 2011’s figures). In addition, 24,101 people were seriously injured, an increase of 9% on the previous year and 4% on 2011.

Thankfully, there was at least some good news, in that the number of people slightly injured decreased by 4% year on year, to 155,491. That figure is 13% lower than the number of those slightly injured in 2011.

Annual Report – number of accidents and deaths on UK roads

Overall, the figures showed an increase of 62 fatalities on the roads in 2016 when compared with 2015. However, the authors noted that some police forces have changed how they record statistics. This could perhaps account for some of the changes in the statistics.

(Credit – Highways England CC by 2.0)

What affects the figures?

The report states that there is no single underlying factor that leads to road casualties. Instead, there are a number of influences. These include:

  • The distance that people travel – this can be affected by economic factors, such as having to travel further to work or to go shopping
  • The blend of transport modes in use
  • The behaviour of drivers – along with that of riders and pedestrians
  • The mixture of people using the roads – the balance of older drivers and younger drivers, for example
  • External factors – the weather, for example, can change the number of driving people and also the road conditions, with rain making the road slippery and encouraging people to use their cars rather than walking

Road user type

Another element examined in the report is the type of road user. The data looked at how many road users of each type were included in the casualty figures.

In 2016, there were 816 fatalities in cars. These accounted for 46% of the total figure – an increase of 8% over the previous year. Meanwhile, 25% (448) of people killed were pedestrians, a 10% increase on 2015. The number of people on motorcycles decreased by 13%, to 319, while 102 cyclists were killed – an increase of 2% on last year.  The remainder of the number were counted as ‘other’ and had increased by 4%.

Dealing with an accident

Car users are the most likely group to be involved in an accident. This is hardly surprising, given that they make up the majority of road users. Motoring organisations have long issued guidance on how to try and avoid accidents. Now, they’re adding in advice about what to do if you are involved in one.

A long-standing idea has been not to apologise, as this amounts to admitting fault legally. While this is generally the case, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t offer help, make sure everyone is okay and wait for the authorities to arrive, if they are coming.

Likewise, for pedestrians, there is clear advice available to try and reduce the risk of becoming a statistic. This includes steps such as using pedestrian crossings wherever possible and to ensuring you’re visible to motorists so they can avoid you. Also, don’t be tempted to read that text message while walking – you could walk into the road and cause an accident due to a lack of concentration. Wait until you’ve reached your destination instead. The same goes for drivers, of course.

Do you feel any less safe on our roads of late? Are we becoming increasingly distracted by technology as we drive or could another factor be behind the rising number of road deaths? Leave a comment to share your thoughts. 


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