No Need to Panic over 2011 Road Casualty Figures
The full figures for road accidents in Britain last year confirm that deaths rose to 1,901, compared with 1,850 in 2010, an increase of 2.8%. While this increase is unwelcome, it must be seen in the context of the overall trend in recent years.
The fatality figure for 2010 represented an exceptionally large drop over the previous year - a fall of 372 deaths, or 16.7% compared with the 2,222 road deaths in 2009. The 2010 figure was driven down by a combination of recessionary factors and the long periods of harsh winter weather at both ends of the year. Indeed, traffic decreased by nearly five billion vehicle miles in 2010, a fall of 1.6% from 2009, while it rose again by 0.2% in 2011.
Fatalities have fallen at a faster rate since the economic downturn began in 2007 than during the previous decade. This is not just due to changes in traffic levels - when adjusted for traffic volumes the fatality rate has always fallen much faster during recessions than when the economy is growing. This is a common finding in all developed countries. Since the majority of accidents are due to road user distraction or inattention, Canadian road safety researcher Al Gullon, who established the link between economic growth and fatality rates, believes that drivers are more anxious during the bad times, so take more care. When things are going well they are more easily distracted by their improving prospects 1
ABD chairman Brian Gregory comments:
"Given the exceptional circumstances of 2010, it is no surprise that the fatality figure rose slightly in 2011. While it is disappointing that there has been an increase in casualties associated with drink-driving, the overall picture does not warrant a knee-jerk reaction. Road safety policies need to be targeted at the irresponsible minority, such as those who drive recklessly or when impaired by drink or drugs. This means more police traffic patrols, not automated enforcement of minor technical offences."
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1. The Dedi Theory of Traffic Accidents, Al Gullon [pdf]
Notes for Editors about the ABD
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