Brake urges strong leadership as people on foot and bike pay the price for road safety inaction

Thursday 25 June 2015

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

Brake, the road safety charity, is urging the government to show strong leadership in the face of the first calendar year increase in road casualties in 17 years. Casualties of all severities rose to 194,477 in Great Britain in 2014, an increase of 6% from 2013, interrupting what was a steady downward trend since 1997.

Brake believes the reintroduction of ambitious casualty reduction targets, axed in 2010, must be a key first step in an urgently needed fightback against road danger.

Annual casualty statistics released by the Department for Transport today (25 June 2015) also show [1]:

  • The number of people seriously injured rose by 5% to 22,807.
  • The number of people killed rose by 4% to 1,775.

People on foot and bike bore the brunt of the rise:

  • Pedestrian deaths rose by 12% to 446, accounting for three quarters of the overall rise in fatalities.
  • Serious injuries to cyclists rose by 8% to 3,401, continuing a long term trend that has been ongoing since 2004.

Almost all of the increase in pedestrian deaths was among people aged 60 and over, suggesting the prevailing UK street environment is not safe for an ever growing section of our society. Older people, who often struggle to judge speed and distance, are one group who would stand to benefit most from a 20mph default urban speed limit – as called for by the GO 20 coalition campaign.

Ed Morrow, campaigns officer for Brake, said: “We should be under no illusions as to the seriousness of these figures. Hand-wringing about statistical significance aside, the reversal of a downward casualty trend that has been ongoing for 17 years does not happen by chance. What is absolutely crystal clear is that things are not getting better, and that simply isn’t good enough.

“The government must take the bull by the horns on this, and it can start by reintroducing ambitious casualty reduction targets, with an ultimate aim of reducing deaths and serious injuries on our roads to zero. Every road death causes unimaginable human suffering, and every road death is preventable.

“Britain claims to have some of the safest roads in the world, but that just isn’t true if you are one of the many people who want to get around on foot or bike. Pedestrians and cyclists are picking up the tab for the government’s failure of ambition – a 20mph default urban speed limit is a key step to rectifying this.”

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.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.

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.

End notes

[1] Reported road casualties in Great Britain: main results 2014, Department for Transport, 2015