RECORD: Road accident deaths lowest ever
The number of people killed on the roads fell to a record low in 2012 – but cyclist fatalities increased for the eighth straight year.
Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show that in 2012, there were 1,754 deaths in accidents reported to police – an 8% fall on 2011 and the lowest figure since records began.
Serious injuries fell 0.4% to 23,039, while the number of children killed or seriously injured fell 6%, to 2,272.
Overall, there were 195,723 casualties on Britain’s roads in 2012 – also a drop on the 2011 figure (4%).
Accidents with injuries fell to the fewest number since 1926 and 1927, with 145,571 instances also 4% lower than in 2011.
Meanwhile, car-occupant, pedestrian and motorcyclist deaths dropped, but fatal accidents involving cyclists rose.
In 2012, 801 car occupants were killed – a 9% fall – while 7% fewer pedestrians were killed, with 420 deaths.
Motorcyclist deaths dropped 9% to 328, with serious injuries falling 5% to 5,000.
However, 118 cyclists died, a 10% rise, with injuries rising 4% to 3,222.
One more child was killed on the roads last year, but the number of children seriously injured fell 6% to 2,211.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) welcomed the overall fall in deaths, but raised concern at the rise in cyclist deaths.
Kevin Clinton, Head of Road Safety at RoSPA, said: “The good news of a large drop in road deaths in 2012 is marred by an increase in cyclist deaths, which occurred despite the poor weather in the main cycling seasons of spring and summer, which probably meant fewer cyclists were on the road.
“If the weather had been better, there may have been even more cyclists killed and injured.
“Even though road deaths in 2012 were at their lowest level since records began, we need to redouble our efforts to make sure that cyclist deaths and injuries are reduced as the popularity of cycling increases.
“The fact that most of the increase in cycling deaths was among child cyclists is particularly worrying.
“As well as increasing the provision of cyclist training and trying to make the roads safer for cyclists, we also need to hammer home the message to drivers to keep their speed down, watch out for cyclists and give them enough room on the road.
“It is also vital to create a coherent safe network for cyclists by introducing the appropriate cycle lanes, linking quieter streets, developing routes alongside rivers, canals and through parks, and lowering speed limits.”
Road safety charity Brake strongly welcomed the news, but outlined their concern that cyclist deaths, serious injuries and pedestrian serious injuries continue to rise.
They said that this means more of the most vulnerable road users are bearing the brunt of road danger and urged greater government action to protect people on foot and bike.
Julie Townsend, Deputy Chief Executive of Brake, said: “Road crashes are violent, sudden events that tear apart families and whole communities; they are also a huge economic burden, and preventable through investment in education, engineering and enforcement.
“While progress towards fewer deaths and injuries is hugely welcome, it is important to acknowledge every person behind these statistics.
“For every one of the 1,754 people killed violently and needlessly in 2012, many more are left behind to grieve their loss, often suffering very serious trauma.
“So we must aim for zero; because no death or serious injury is acceptable.”
Meanwhile, Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research at the Institute for Advanced Motorists (IAM), said: “IAM welcomes a return to the long-term improvements in road safety that the UK has been rightly recognised for.
“Last year was a clear warning for government that complacency in road safety cost lives.
“The IAM has always warned that failing to match investment in segregated facilities with the growing numbers of cyclists would lead to an increase in death and serious injury and this worrying trend continues.
“A ten per cent increase in cycling deaths in a year when the weather suppressed cycling trips is a real red danger signal that simply cannot be ignored.”
Image courtesy of Ryan Weisgerber, with thanks.