Increase in road casualties should be wake up call for politicians, says charity

Thursday 5 February 2015

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk 

Road safety charity Brake has expressed dismay at an increase in road casualties announced today, and is calling on all political parties to commit to three vital road safety policies, especially to protect pedestrians, cyclists, children and young people. The figures show that deaths and serious injuries on UK roads increased by 4% in the year ending September 2014, with deaths up by 1%.

In total, 1,730 people were killed and 22,630 seriously injured on UK roads in the year ending September 2014, up from 1,711 deaths and 21,728 serious injuries in the previous year. Casualties of all severities are also up by 5%, from 184,087 to 192,910.

Casualties are up for all types of road user, with child and cyclist casualties of particular concern:

  • Child deaths and serious injuries are up by 3% to 2,060, with casualties of all severities up by 6% to 16,640 – the first rise in rolling year comparisons for 20 years.
  • Cyclist deaths and serious injuries are up 8% to 3,500.

Brake is calling on all political parties to make three, key general election manifesto commitments to get casualties falling again and enable everyone to get around safely, sustainably and actively:

  • Change the default urban speed limit to 20mph to protect people on foot and bike, and allow everyone to walk and cycle without fear. Read about the GO 20 campaign.
  • Introduce graduated driver licensing, to allow new drivers to build skills and experience gradually while exposed to less danger. Read about the too young to die campaign.
  • Introduce a zero-tolerance drink drive limit of 20mg per 100ml of blood, to stamp out the menace of drink driving once and for all. Read about the not a drop, not a drag campaign.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said:“These casualty increases are the tragic result of a failure of ambition. They come on the back of three years of flat-lining road death and serious injury figures, during which the government congratulated itself on having ‘some of the safest roads in the world’, rather than making forward thinking decisions and setting targets to secure further reductions. We need a commitment to a long-term vision of nobody being killed or seriously injured on our roads, rather than settling for the status quo. Every road casualty causes appalling suffering, and every one can be prevented, but only if we make the right moves.

“Global research and experience clearly points to the policies that prevent road casualties and the resultant suffering, and enable people to get around through healthy and sustainable means. Based on this evidence, we’re appealing to all political parties to include three key life-saving measures in manifestos: graduated driver licensing, a 20mph default urban speed limit, and a zero-tolerance drink drive limit. We’re in no doubt these measures would put us back on the path of stopping needless loss of life on our roads, and creating safer streets and communities for all.”

Brake provides support for people bereaved and injured in road crashes. Find out more at www.brake.org.uk/support.

Notes for editors

Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.