2016 saw a sharp rise in serious or fatal road accidents for the first time in the last five years. Every quarter of 2016 saw a rise in road accidents compared with 2015. Between 2012 and 2015, the amount of fatal or serious road accidents fell, whilst the amount of traffic increased each year. According to the Department of Transport, overall traffic rose by 0.9% from the year before.
These sombre statistics come as a time when we are seeing a record number of cars meeting the correct safety requirements and with many car makers going further and ensuring their cars are safe places for drivers and passengers such as blind spot warnings and automated braking.
2017 is the 20th anniversary of the Euro NCAP rating that judges every car sold on how safe they are. Since its introduction in 1997, it is estimated that 78,000 lives have been saved through cars being put through their rigorous crash tests.
The third quarter of 2016 saw the largest increase with 6,920 fatal and serious accidents. This is a 9% increase over 2015’s 5,784 fatal or serious accidents for the same period. Thanks to the summer holidays and warmer weather, the third quarter of every year is the busiest period for drivers on the road.
We saw an increase in Q1 and Q2 of 2016 in comparison to the same time in 2015. In Q1 2015, there were 5,151 accidents where someone was either seriously injured or killed. This rose a year later to 5,770 accidents. Q1 in 2016 was also the deadliest first quarter in five years with 420 people losing their lives in road accidents.
Moving into Q2 of 2016, we saw another increase with 6,110 accidents of this nature occurring. This is another sharp rise when compared with 2015’s Q2, which had 5,958 fatal or serious road accidents. Sadly, the number of people killed also increased from 420 to 460.
A positive bit of news from Q3 of 2016 is that whilst the number of serious accidents did increase by 9% compared to the previous year, the number of deaths did fall from 454 down to 450. It may not sound like a big numerical difference, but that is four people still alive.
There are major factors that determine the type of road a major accident is like to occur on. These are whether a road is a major or a minor road and how built-up the area is. According to the Department of Transport’s statistics for the third quarters of 2015 and 2016, minor roads see more serious or fatal road accidents than major roads. This resulted in an 11% increase of accidents on minor roads compared to the 6% increase on major roads.
Serious or fatal accidents are more likely to occur on roads in built-up areas. According to the Highway Code, a built-up area is a settled area in which the speed limit is automatically 30 mph. In basic terms, major accidents are more likely to occur in residential areas, towns and cities than non-built-up areas such as carriageways and motorways.
Q3 of 2016 saw a 10% increase in those types of accidents on built-up roads when compared with the same quarter in 2015. In fact, 2000 more serious or fatal accidents took place on built-up roads (4,140) compared with those that occurred on non-built up roads (2,140) in the same third quarter.
Since the introduction of the Euro NCAP and other car and road safety initiatives in the past four decades, we have seen both cars and the roads we drive on become safer. This includes the introduction of the airbag in 1984, rear seat belts in 1987, Brake Assist in 1998, automatic braking (ABS) in 2010 and the introduction of the Pedestrian Airbag in 2012.
Overall car manufacturers are improving car safety for all their models. However, more clearly needs to be done within our communities and by the government to support safer driving for all. This could include road safety awareness courses such as the one Hippo Motor Group did for the children of Lancashire over Christmas. There are a variety of schemes both by governments and by charities and business attempting to make our roads safer. They need more support to ensure our roads are safe for us all.
If you would like to link directly to our data compiled here, you can find our spreadsheet here.