Roddy Graham's Blog: 26 November 2009 - Safety sense
26 November 2009
Roddy Graham is chairman of the ICFM and commercial director of Leasedrive Velo
This week is Road Safety Week, the annual initiative organised by Brake, the independent road safety charity. I hope it's a better week than most, which sees seven deaths and 71 serious injuries recorded each day on our UK roads.
We pat ourselves on the back that road deaths have declined in this country. In 2008, there were 2538 people killed on our roads, the lowest annual figure since records began in 1926. The figure represented a 14% drop over 2007 despite a European road assessment programme report rating 58% of our A-roads as either neutral or poor for safety.
The total number of deaths or serious injuries in 2008 was 28,567, 7% fewer than in 2007. For once, Government targets have been met. Government wanted to reduce the number of deaths or serious injuries on the roads by 40% by 2010, compared to the mid-90s average. Job done, for now, but no room for complacency.
As a country, we lie sixth in the global road safety league with 54 fatalities per million of the population. Malta tops the league, followed by the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and Norway. Given the traffic on our roads, that's not a bad figure but we want to be top.
Purely from a cold economic perspective, we need the figures to improve further. Preventing a fatal injury in a road accident is estimated to be worth £1.65 million to the UK economy. With around 200 road deaths and serious injuries every week involving someone driving 'at work', clearly it makes sense to reduce casualty rates. After all, about a quarter of all vehicle miles driven annually are for work purposes and that excludes commuting to and from work.
If you cycle or walk to work, the dangers are higher. One in 20 road deaths involve cyclists and the latest Department for Transport figures revealed that 820 cyclists were killed or seriously injured in the three months to June, a 19% increase over the same period to June 2008. Motorcycle riders saw a 5% rise indicating a lot more needs to be done to protect two-wheel road users. Meanwhile, driver statistics dropped 4% continuing the downward trend. Even pedestrian deaths and serious injuries dropped by 8%.
As I stated, there is no room for complacency and judging by the erratic and downright dangerous driving of some minor elements on Friday night rush-hours still more emphasis needs to be placed on driver education.
We could even start by dropping the term 'rush-hour', which is a misnomer in itself judging by the levels of traffic congestion. None of us wants to reach the next world any sooner than we want.