Brake, the road safety charity, is calling on the UK government to reintroduce casualty reduction targets as the Department for Transport publishes its Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain Annual Report for 2014. It shows that 1,775 people died on the roads (a 4% increase on the year before). 22,807 more were seriously injured (a 5% annual increase).
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, alongside a ‘vision zero’ approach that acknowledges that any number of road deaths is unacceptable.
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.
Worryingly, traffic levels in 2014 were 2.4% higher than in 2013. Air pollution is estimated to cause 24,000 deaths a year in the UK, half attributable to road transport. The number of cars is set to increase by 43% by 2035 and traffic delays by 50%.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: “We should be under no illusions as to the seriousness of these figures. The government needs to get a grip of this situation, 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. We know from running our helpline for devastated road crash victims that every road death causes unimaginable human suffering, and every one is preventable. The increases in serious casualties among pedestrians and cyclists are especially horrifying, given the importance of protecting vulnerable road users and enabling people to walk and cycle more.
“At a time when car manufacturers have serious questions to answer on vehicle emissions, it is worrying to see a growth in vehicle traffic. The price for this is being paid by individuals, families and the planet, and it’s not a price worth paying. That’s why our theme for this year’s Road Safety Week, Drive less, live more, is focused on encouraging people to think again about why, when and how we drive private vehicles.”