‘Appalling’ lack of progress as British road deaths flatline for 10th year

The number of people killed on Britain’s roads remained virtually unchanged over the last year, with nearly 1,800 fatalities recorded.

The latest Department for Transport figures show that 1,748 people were killed on British roads in 2019 - a two per cent decrease on the 1,784 in 2018 - continuing a broadly flat pattern since 2010.

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The lack of progress in reducing deaths has prompted calls for better investment in road policing, the possibility of graduated licences and for the Government to “take responsibility” in addressing what safety campaigners labelled an “appalling” record.

In total, 76 people per day were killed or seriously injured on the country’s roads in 2019, with 25,975 series injuries recorded. That is slightly higher than the 25,511 serious injuries reported in 2018 but the DfT says the figures are not directly comparable as police forces continue to change how they report the severity of injuries.

Car occupants make up almost half of all road fatalities (Photo: Shutterstock)Car occupants make up almost half of all road fatalities (Photo: Shutterstock)
Car occupants make up almost half of all road fatalities (Photo: Shutterstock)

Using the DfT’s adjusted figures, which reflect changes in reporting, fatalities are down two per cent on 2018, serious injuries down one per cent and slight injuries down five per cent.

Car occupant deaths fell by four per cent but they still represent the largest proportion of fatalities (43 per cent). Pedal cyclist and motorcyclist deaths also fell (one and five per cent respectively) but pedestrian fatalities were up one per cent to 98 and deaths of “other” road users were up 12 per cent to 110.

Time for action

Joshua Harris of road safety charity Brake said the figures showed a need for better investment in tackling dangerous driving, especially in the wake of the Government's “walking and cycling revolution” plans.

He commented: “For nearly a decade now, we have seen an appalling stagnation in the number of deaths on our roads and it’s high-time for the government to take responsibility and act.

“We need to rid our roads of dangerous drink and drug driving, introduce safe speeds in our towns, cities and rural areas and reinvigorate roads policing, which has been decimated by funding cuts.

“The Government’s ambition to get more people cycling and walking is a noble one, but this will only be realised if we have safe roads that people can be confident to travel on. With 76 people being killed or seriously injured on the roads every day, 28 of which are people cycling or walking, we are a long long way from achieving this goal.”

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Quick wins

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart’s director of policy and research, said the figures were “frankly embarrassing.

He said: “We need UK Government to show real leadership and push road safety up the political agenda if we are to see a return of year-on-year improvements.

“Some quick wins could include: graduated driver licencing, more traffic police on the roads, a new approach to older drivers – such as an eye test on licence renewal at 75, mature driver assessments on prescription and more powers for the Health and Safety Executive to insist on good driver risk management across UK business.”