Last reviewed 15 November 2023
Recent released figures for reported road accidents and incidents up to 2022 show a return towards pre-pandemic trends. They also include information important for personal and business travel and transport decision-making by drivers, fleet operators, and other road-users.
The present and future role of road traffic, particularly cars and light vehicles whether fossil-fuel based or electric, is now headline news for several reasons. These include speed limits and access restrictions on urban roads, the impacts of tyre and brake-pad wear, plus exhaust fumes and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions effects on air quality and global warming.
However, road traffic incidents and accidents in terms of casualties and fatalities are also key health and safety issues for individual road users, companies, and transport managers.
There is also a reminder — with more details later — that Road Safety Week 2023 takes place from 19 to 25 November 2023 (https://www.brake.org.uk/road-safety-week/take-part).
As of March 2023, the RAC says there were 33.27 million cars (81.5%), 4.65 million LGVs (11.4%), 0.54 million HGVs (1.3%), 1.37 million motorcycles (3.3%), 0.14 million buses and coaches (0.3%) and 0.85 million other licensed vehicles (2.1%), on UK roads (https://www.racfoundation.org/motoring-faqs/mobility).
Motor Trader figures in April 2023 for 2022 saw car numbers rise by 124,393 to 35,148,045; total vehicles numbers reached a record 40,723,974. Businesses post-pandemic had 615,570 trucks and 4,887,593 vans in service, up 1.9% and 1.7% (https://www.motortrader.com/motor-trader-news/automotive-news/number-cars-uk-roads-returns-pre-pandemic-levels-25-04-2023).
There are now some 1.474 billion cars in the world, most in Asia, then Europe and North America.
Road accidents and safety statistics
Reported Road Casualties Great Britain, Annual Report: 2022 was released in September 2023 (here).
As an official record of personal injury road traffic casualties figures in Britain reported by the police to the Department for Transport in 2022 using the STATS19 (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/stats19-forms-and-guidance), it analyses data against a series of parameters that can be helpful in improving road safety.
The overview below is a summary of data; full details can be seen on the website above.
There was a continuation in the downward trend since 1979 in reported road collisions and fatal casualties, although this was flatter in the decade between 2010 and 2020.
The final 2022 estimates are: 1711 fatalities, a decline of 2% compared to 2019; 29,742 killed or seriously injured (KSI) casualties, a decline of 3% compared to 2019; and 135,480 casualties of all severities, a decline of 12% compared to 2019
Considering road collision rates per billion miles travelled, the final figures also showed: 328 billion vehicle miles travelled in 2022; a return to travel levels seen in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic; and five road fatalities per billion vehicle miles travelled in 2022 (up 2%).
In addition, the data highlighted that: pedestrian fatalities declined by 18%; males suffered 76% of fatalities and 62% of casualties of all severities; in international comparisons Britain ranked fifth out of 38 countries with available data for lowest number of road fatalities per million population.
The report also showed that between 2021 and 2022, reported road casualty numbers broadly returned to the pre-pandemic level. Car occupants accounted for most road casualties. However, the highest rates per billion miles travelled were experienced by motorcyclists. There were very few casualties on motorways, even though motorways now carry a fifth of all UK road traffic.
However, people are under no obligation to report all personal injury collisions to the police and the figures shown are thought not to represent the full range of all collisions or casualties in Britain.
Further data breakdown
To understand the significance of the figures for safety improvement, casualties are broken down further into, first, fatalities (people killed in road collisions), and, secondl, injuries. However, injuries is split further into “seriously” and “slightly injured”, based on type of injury sustained. Killed and seriously injured casualties are commonly grouped together as “KSIs”. In addition to the summary figures above, there were: 91 KSI casualties per billion vehicle miles travelled (a 2% increase compared to 2019); 413 casualties of all severities per billion vehicle miles travelled (an 8% fall).
People at risk
The four main types of road user are: car occupants; pedestrians; motorcyclists and pedal cyclists. The figures shown below are for fatalities and casualties.
Fatalities statistics show that in 2022: 44% of fatalities were car occupants; 22% pedestrians; 20% motorcyclists; and 5% pedal cyclists. Compared to 2019: the biggest percentage change was for pedestrian fatalities which showed a decline of 18%; pedal cyclist fatalities declined by 9%. However, car occupant fatalities (not casualties) increased by 7% and were 4% higher for motorcyclists.
An increase in “other vehicle occupants” casualty figures compared to 2019, including e-scooters, which accounted for a large part of the casualty rise. When compared to 2012, fatality rates for pedal cyclists have fallen continuously over the last decade.
In 2022, 53% of casualties (not fatalities) were car occupants, 14% pedestrians, 12% motorcyclists, and 11% pedal cyclists. The biggest rate change was for car occupant casualties, which actually declined by 17%. Pedestrian and pedal cyclist casualties fell. But motorcyclist casualty numbers increased slightly.
By age and gender
Generally, road fatalities and casualties have fallen for both males and females over the last decade, although male numbers remain consistently higher.
Specifically: 76% of fatalities and 62% of casualties of all severities were male. 3% of fatalities and 10% of casualties were aged 16 years old and under; 25% of fatalities and 29% of casualties were aged 17 to 29 years old and 23% of fatalities and 7% of casualties were aged 70 years old and over.
Across all ages, male road fatalities in 2022 were similar to 2019. Female fatalities declined slightly. Compared to 2012, the majority of age groups show a decrease in road fatalities. However, there were some increases in the 50 to 59 and 70 and over age ranges reflecting the growing elderly population.
In 2022, the male age group with most fatalities was 30 to 49 year olds. The comparable female figure was for 70 year olds and over. Overall, both male and female casualty numbers in all age groups have decreased.
In 2022, the majority of road fatalities were on rural roads; the majority of all casualties were on urban roads. Motorways accounted for 21% of road traffic, but just 6% of fatalities and 4% of casualties. In contrast, rural roads carry 44% of traffic but saw 59% of fatalities. Similarly, urban roads carry 35% of traffic but had 63% of road casualties.
Comparisons between countries are only possible for fatalities per million population, as casualties and traffic data are collected less consistently across different countries. However, Britain’s road fatalities per million population have been among the lowest in the world for many years.
Although contributing reasons for accidents and incidence are numerous and complex, the top three assigned to fatal road collisions in Great Britain are: loss of control; drivers or riders failing to look and check properly; and drivers or riders being careless, reckless or in a hurry.
The report also gives a statistical analysis of further causes, including failing to wear a seatbelt, alcohol or drug use, It also breaks down incidents in terms of geographic locations, type of breakdown, plus vehicles involved in collisions by type, manoeuvre and driver characteristics.
Road Safety Week 2023
Brake's biggest annual road safety campaign will take place from 19 to 25 November 2023 on the theme of Our Aim — Zero Harm (https://www.brake.org.uk/road-safety-week/take-part).
The week will involve schools to help children, young people and parents learn why road safety matters — and organisations to help employees and employees understand how to protect themselves and other road users through good policies, procedures, training and education.
Emergency services and road safety professionals will also highlight their work to reduce casualties and care for people affected by crashes.
A lot of general and detailed advice and guidance is available online from authoritative sources, including:
It is also important to see The Highway Code: 8 Changes You Need to Know from 29 January 2022 (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/the-highway-code-8-changes-you-need-to-know-from-29-january-2022), which says, “… rules for all types of road users have been updated in The Highway Code to improve the safety of people walking, cycling and riding horses”.
£47.5 million boost for safer English roads
In April 2023, the Department for Transport announced safety improvements for 27 of the most high-risk roads in England to help prevent fatal and serious injuries. The funding will be invested from the Isle of Wight to Newcastle with the aim of improving road safety by 50%. It is hoped this will prevent more than 750 fatal and serious injuries in the next 20 years, with a £420 million benefit to society (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/nearly-50-million-boost-for-safer-roads-across-england).
Plan for drivers
The Government also published in October 2023 its Plan for Drivers designed to improve the experience of driving and services provided for motorists by making driving as straightforward, accessible, environmentally responsible and safe as possible (seehere).
Road travel, transport and transit is now under close scrutiny for a number of safety and environmental reasons which may affect decisions taken by companies, fleet operator, employees and individual drivers.
A recent detailed analysis of overall statistics that are also examined against a number of parameters is given in Reported Road Casualties Great Britain, Annual Report: 2022, which was released in September 2023.
There is also important to note that Road Safety Week 2023 will take place from 19 to 25 November 2023, details can be found here.