Road accident victims decreasing – but still work to be done

21 September 2022

The number of victims of road traffic accidents on UK roads are on the decline. Sally Green, an Associate in our personal injury team, looks at measures which can help the number of injuries and fatalities drop still further.

Official figures released from the Department of Transport paint an improving picture when it comes to victims from road traffic accidents in the UK.

The 1,390 road deaths reported in the year ending June 2021 represented an 11% decrease on the corresponding period 12 months earlier.

The 119,850 casualties of all severities also represented a 9% decrease when the same time periods were compared.

Some may point to the lockdown period, and subsequent reduction in travel, to partly explain these figures but both declines are greater than the reported 5% reduction in traffic reported in the year ending June 2021 compared to the previous 12 months.

Rising awareness, including campaigns such as the recent National Road Victim Month in August, is sure to play a part but there is still more to be done in an attempt to reduce that figure further.

Here are some key points to remember to help play your part in ensuring a continued decline in road traffic accident victims.

Be aware of Highway Code changes

Pedestrians are amongst the most vulnerable when it comes to a road traffic accident and regular changes to the Highway Code are designed to reflect that.

The latest raft of amendments were introduced in January and – whether you spend more of your time as a driver or pedestrian – it’s worth taking the time to familiarise yourself with those changes by clicking here.

The most notable changes are traffic having to give way to pedestrians when crossing a road and drivers applying the ‘Dutch Reach’ approach when leaving a car, opening the door with the hand opposite to the side they are opening to ensure they turn their head to look over their shoulder behind them, reducing the chance of causing injury to passing people on the pavement. 

Kill the speed

Excessive speed remains the contributory factor in one in three fatal road crashes.

It goes without saying that the slower the car is travelling, the less likely there is to be a serious crash and there are increasing measures being taken to reduce speed.

Increasingly, there are 20mph speed limits for residential streets while speed humps, chicanes and narrowing roads are amongst the other techniques used to slow drivers down.

Taking a little longer to reach a final destination can really make all the difference.

Don’t be distracted

Distractions can come in different forms. There could be mental ones, such as a lapse in concentration or worries about work or home life, or physical ones including sending a text on a mobile phone.

The government moved to strengthen the laws against mobile phone use by a driver earlier in the year to make it easier for police to prosecute.

It was already illegal to text or make a phone call using a hand-held device when driving but drivers are now banned from taking photos or videos and scrolling through playlists or play games, with a £200 fixed penalty notice and six points on the licence the punishment.

Take extra care when around cyclists and motorcyclists

It’s a two-way street when it comes to responsibility for drivers, cyclists and motorcyclists to ensure safety on the road.

Being considerate to cyclists and motorcyclists is a key part of safe driving, including giving ample clearance when passing.

At the same time, cyclists and motorcyclists must take measures to ensure they are playing their part to reduce the risk.

This can include wearing high-vis clothing, sounding a horn to ensure any lapse in concentration from surrounding drivers is broken and considering – if safe – slight movements to the offside of the carriageway to help break a static image that fellow drivers may be viewing.

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