The Brake Blog
News and views from around the road safety world, with contributions from partners, researchers and campaigners as well as Brake staff and volunteers. All views expressed are those of the contributor and do not necessarily represent those of Brake or its employees.
How much do Brits really know about road crashes?
When it comes to road safety, there seems to be a lack of awareness from the general public and a sense of passing the buck when it comes to responsibility on our roads. In the latest Brake blog, Steven Crouch from Citygate ask if the people who use our roads really know about the true causes of road crashes?
Road safety awareness adverts punctuate the lives of drivers and pedestrians throughout the UK on a daily basis – but the question remains as to whether Brits truly understand the primary dangers they face on the road.
Although campaigns like Brake’s #DriveSmart have been launched to drive Britain towards a more aware and conscientious future, tens of thousands of people are still seriously injured and even killed on UK roads each year. Worse still, new data suggests that Brits may not know all the facts when it comes to why these crashes happen – and until the greatest dangers become common knowledge, it will be difficult for road safety campaigns to gain the momentum they deserve.
Put simply, if we don’t know why something is broken, can we realistically fix it?
A survey of 10,000 road users, conducted by Citygate, revealed what people in the UK do and don’t know about the key causes of road crashes in Britain. With responses ranging from breaking speed limits and using mobile phones in transit to driving under the influence and owning a faulty vehicle, Brits weighed in on what they believe to be the ultimate dangers.
More haste, less speed
41% of respondents cited speeding as one of the leading causes of road accidents in the UK, which aligns with data from the RoSPA - revealing that 14% of crashes are caused by drivers who routinely break speed limits. However, it appeared that female drivers were less tolerant of speeders than males. 48% of women surveyed believed broken speed limits to be the greatest danger on UK roads, versus just 39% of men.
As drivers continue to prioritise convenience over consideration for their fellow road users, it looks like road safety campaigns may still have a way to go in terms of raising awareness and clamping down on reckless behaviour.
Driven to distraction
Brake data on driver distractions concluded that as much as 22% of all crashes could be due to absent-minded drivers. Thanks to a perfect storm of short attention spans, distracting devices and other external influences, Britain’s drivers are failing to focus on the safety of themselves and other road users.
Last year, the Mirror reported 67 mobile phone-related road crashes between 2012 and 2014, and 40% of survey respondents correctly identified mobile phone use as an ongoing danger for drivers, passengers and pedestrians alike.
Driving under the influence is a common cause of road casualties and even deaths - in spite of being entirely avoidable. In 2014, drink driving crashes still accounted for a huge 14% of all road deaths in Britain - but less than a third of Brits believe drunk drivers are largely to blame.
The dangers of driving while drunk are widely acknowledged. According to Drinkaware, alcohol has the power to significantly reduce our perceptive abilities, reduce our night vision by 25% and limit our peripheral vision. Nevertheless, it’s been revealed that no less than 10 million UK drivers regularly get behind the wheel while being over the limit, despite the obvious hazards associated with this negligence.
The blame game
Over a fifth of Brits were eager to shift the blame, claiming that other road users are primarily responsible for crashes on the road. However, according to Autocar, driver error is actually the greatest contributory factor of all - highlighting not only a lack of knowledge but also a lack of accountability.
Some of the survey’s respondents gave their own suggestions when it came to why road accidents happen - with other responses including confusing road layouts and poor driving in general. While the facts surrounding car crashes may not be entirely clear to all of us, what is clear is that a greater emphasis must be placed on Britain’s road safety education in the hopes of reducing road accident statistics in the future.
Now it’s time to reflect on the root causes of accidents and trade convenience for compassion to ensure the safety of not only ourselves, but also our passengers, pedestrians and fellow drivers.