Select Committee on Transport Tenth Report

2  Setting the context: the road casualty problem

5. The Department for Transport is currently on track to meet its Public Service Agreement target to reduce road casualties. By 2010, the target is to achieve, compared with the average for 1994-98:

  • a 40% reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured (KSI) in road collisions;
  • a 50% reduction in the number of children under 16 killed or seriously injured; and
  • a 10% reduction in the slight casualty rate, expressed as the number of people slightly injured per 100 million vehicle kilometres.[3]

6. The target also commits the Department to tackling the significantly higher incidence of road traffic injuries in disadvantaged communities. The Department for Transport now has underway the second three-yearly review of progress in implementation of the Road Safety Strategy and expects subsequently to review its casualty reduction policy for the period beyond 2010.[4] Despite having one of the safest road environments in the world,[5] road travel is still far more dangerous than other modes of transport, as demonstrated by the table below.

Table 1: Passenger casualty rates by mode in 2004
Killed (per billion passenger kilometres) Killed or seriously injured (per billion passenger kilometres)
Air 0.0 0.0
Rail 0.2 N/A[6]
Water 0.0 47
Bus and coach 0.4 9
Car 2.5 25
Van 0.8 8
Two-wheeled motor vehicle 105 1,194
Pedal cycle 35 597
Pedestrian 37 409

Source: DfT Road Casualties Great Britain 2006 Edition, Table 52, page 130

7. We congratulate the Department for Transport, the police, local authorities and road safety professionals for the good progress that has been made toward the casualty reduction targets. This is a considerable achievement. There should be no complacency however, when over 3,000 people continue to be killed each year, and almost 30,000 are seriously injured. The number of deaths and injuries remains far too high. People accept a level of risk on the road which far surpasses anything they would consent to in other aspects of daily life, including other modes of transport.

8. Table 2 below illustrates the progress that has been made and the scale of the problem which we still face. Table 2: Road Casualties in Great Britain: Main Results: 2006
Road Casualties in Great Britain 1994-1998 average 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
People killed 3,578 3,4093,450 3,431 3,5083,221 3,201
People killed and seriously injured 47,656 41,56440,560 39,407 37,21534,351 32,155
Casualties of all severities 319,928 320,283 313,309 302,605 290,607 280,840 271,017

9. The vast majority of these casualties are preventable: research indicates that up to 95% of road collisions are attributable to human error.[7] A considerable element of this human error involves illegal or irresponsible driving behaviour. Road traffic law is one of the main tools available to society to reduce the number and severity of road collisions, by defining behaviour which is held to be unduly risky as illegal. But laws are only effective if they are obeyed and the law is more likely to be obeyed when it is visibly enforced. A significant level of enforcement is likely to have a deterrent effect and to persuade potential offenders to observe traffic laws.

3   Scottish Ministers and the National Assembly for Wales have concurrent responsibility with the UK Government for the promotion of road safety in Scotland and Wales respectively. Northern Ireland has its own road safety strategy for 2002-2012, which seeks a one third reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured each year on Northern Ireland roads by 2012. Back

4   Ev 150 Back

5   Transport Statistics Great Britain: 2005 Edition shows in Table 10.7 that only Sweden had a lower rate of road deaths per head of population than Great Britain in 2003.  Back

6   Reporting regulations on the railways use a different categorisation of casualties to the road environment. The only categories used are deaths and injuries. It is therefore not possible to identify the number of serious injuries. Back

7   Sabey, B.E. and Taylor, H. (1980) The Known Risks We Run: The Highway. TRRL Supplementary Report 567. Crowthorne: TRRL. Back

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