There has been a 4% increase in the number of people killed in road traffic accidents in Great Britain, according to the latest figures from the Department for Transport (DfT).
In total 1,792 people lost their lives on the roads in 2016, which is the highest recorded number in past five years.
The biggest increase in fatalities was apparently for pedestrians, with numbers increasing by 10% year-on-year. Car occupants saw the second biggest rise in fatality numbers, increasing by 8%.
In addition 24,101 people were seriously injured, which is a 9% increase over 2015’s figures, however the DfT warned that comparisons should be "interpreted with caution" due to changes in the way police forces are classifying the severity of injuries.
The data also shows that the number of people killed in accidents where the use of a mobile phone was a contributory factor rose from 22 to 35 (59% rise) and those seriously injured jumped from 99 to 137 (38% rise).
Lack of Progress in Reducing Accidents
"These numbers tell a familiar story. Since 2011 there has been next to no progress made in cutting the number of crash deaths,” commented Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation
. "The silver lining is that a new accident reporting system means we are gathering better data than ever on the harm being done on the roads.”
"It is time for the establishment of a road accident investigation branch - similar to the teams we see in the rail and aviation industries - so lessons can be learned and best practice shared across the country to help bring down these stubbornly high figures,” he said. “Humans will always be the weak link, so we must continue reengineering our most dangerous roads to stop the worst accidents happening or mitigate their effects when they do.”
“Employers should be reminded of their duty of care to employees who drive,” he added. “Around a third of people who are hurt on the roads are driving for work. Professional drivers must not be put under so much pressure to meet deadlines and targets that they cut safety corners.”
Concerns over Child Fatalities
Accident prevention charity RoSPA
has echoed the calls of the RAC Foundation and other safety organisations for more action to reduce road deaths and injuries.
It has expressed particular concern over the number child fatalities on the road, which have increased by 28% from 2015, with 69 under-15s losing their lives in 2016. Of all child road casualties (15,976), 38% were pedestrians, and nearly a quarter (22%) were killed or injured during the afternoon school run, between the hours of 3-5pm.
In response to these figures, RoSPA has called for a renewed focus on teaching children life-saving road safety skills, including:
- Effective road safety education in schools
- Practical pedestrian training for children
- Providing safe walking and cycling routes to school.
RoSPA would also like to see greater promotion of the benefits of driving at 20mph in built-up areas, where there will be children walking or cycling to school.
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