PR515: Road Casualty Statistics - Briefing note
- PR515: Road Casualty Statistics - Briefing note
news: for immediate release
Assuming a total road deaths figure in excess of 3,100 for 2,006...
Paul Smith, founder of SafeSpeed.org.uk, said: "Our overall road safety
performance continues to be extremely disappointing. I am absolutely certain
that bad policy founded on 'speed kills' is at the centre of the problem.
Department for Transport needs a complete rebuild from the ground up - their
policies clearly aren't working."
Tomorrow at or before 10am Department for Transport are expected to issue 'Road
Casualties Great Britain (main results) 2006. This will be the first time we
have seen audited national road casualty figures for 2006.
This briefing note highlights the issues that, possibly, Department for
Transport would rather you didn't notice.
There is a known very high level of under-reporting of serious injury figures.
If the rate of under-reporting is rising, and we believe that it is, then a
reduction in the serious injury numbers may NOT represent a real improvement in
road safety. Safespeed highlighted the issue in 2004 , and both the British
Medical Journal  and the Statistics Commission  provided confirmation in
2006. The BMJ in particular told us that despite a 35% drop in DfT's 'serious
injuries' over a decade, the number of victims of road crashes who were
hospitalised rose slightly over the same decade.
Safe Speed does not believe that ongoing reduction in the serious injury
statistics represent a real improvement in road safety at all. As things stand
the serious injury series is ENTIRELY UNSUITABLE for year on year comparison.
Department for Transport, to their eternal shame, have issued a couple of
documents obfuscating the issues surrounding the serious injury statistics.
Department for Transport road safety targets are set in terms of 'Killed and
Seriously Injured' (KSI) persons. Unfortunately the number of 'S' is around 10
times the number of 'K' so the flawed serious injury figures dominate the KSI
figures. We could have a bizarre situation where the roads are getting more
dangerous and the numbers killed are rising, but due to increasing under-
reporting of serious injuries it might appear that targets are being met.
TOTAL ROAD DEATHS - and how they are changing
If road safety policy 'works' road deaths go down - but it isn't quite so
simple. If policy does nothing, we should expect road deaths to fall under some
well-understood influences, especially:
- we're continuing to put safer cars on the roads every year (-3%)
- we're continuing to improve roads engineering (-1.5%)
- we're continuing to improve at post crash care and rescue (-1%)
- pedestrian activity continues to decline (-1%)
- traffic continues to increase (+1.5%)
The figures in brackets are Safe Speed current estimates of the 'value' of
each of the factors in terms of road death change over a year. Taken together
we expect road deaths to fall by around 5% per annum. These sorts of falls are
present in much of Europe according to the recent report from ETSC  showed
that 10 countries achieved greater than this level of improvement over the last
Of course there remains the possibility of 'social confounders' such as:
- growth of mobile phone driving
- people switching to motorbikes because of congestion
- growth of 'larger SUV style vehicles which may do more damage in some crashes
- ... and so on.
But the fact remains that the expectation and the baseline against which we
should measure our performance is not a 'flat line' but an ever downwards
Recent UK road deaths figures are as follows:
A reduction of 5% since 2005 would give a 2006 figure of 3,041 and would
represent 'reasonable performance' on one year's change. Less that 3,041 would
be good performance and higher than 3,041 would be disappointing performance.
But we have become extremely used to disappointing performance in the past
A figure of 3,150 has been rumoured, which would represent a drop of about
1.5%. This would be roughly consistent with recent performance but is NOWHERE
NEAR to the performance we're entitled to. Safe Speed is certain that 'bad
policy' is responsible for the last decade's bad performance.
Notes for editors
 European Transport Safety Council first PIN report:
Scrap Speed Cameras Week:
About Safe Speed
The Safe Speed road safety campaign is primarily the work of engineer-turned
road safety analyst Paul Smith.
Since setting up Safe Speed in 2001, Paul Smith, 52, an advanced driver and
road safety enthusiast, and a professional engineer of 25 years UK experience,
has carried out over 22,000 hours working on the campaign with well over 6,000
of those hours researching the overall effects of speed camera policy on UK
road safety. In addition to those 22,000 hours, Paul has funded to campaign to
the tune of £10,000.
We believe that this is more work in more detail than anything carried out by
any other organisation. Paul's surprising conclusion is that overall speed
cameras make our roads more dangerous. Paul has identified and reported a
number of major flaws and false assumptions in the claims made for speed
cameras, and the whole "speed kills" system of road safety.
The inescapable conclusion is that we should urgently return to the excellent
road safety policies that gave us in the UK the safest roads in the World in
the first place. Far from saving lives, speed cameras are a dangerous
Safe Speed does not campaign against speed limits or appropriate enforcement
of motoring laws, but argues vigorously that automated speed enforcement is
neither safe nor appropriate.
Safe Speed is very slimly funded by voluntary contributions to the web site.
We are urgently seeking improved funding.
The Safe Speed web site contains more than 350,000 words of road safety
analysis and information. We are seeking publishers for 'the book of the web
It has turned out to be quite an amazing story and there are opportunities for
journalists and broadcasters to explore how all this came about, what it
means, and where road safety has gone so badly wrong.
Contact Safe Speed
description: Safe Speed road safety campaign
telephone: > 01862 893030 < Primary contact number and see below
ISDN Audio: 01862 894772
mobile: 07799 045553
Location: North Scotland
We are always available for further comment on your road safety story.
To be added to our PR distribution list send an email to
psmith@... or visit our press pages at:
Recent press releases (since November 2004) are automatically and immediately
Recent photo of Paul Smith:
Scrap Speed Cameras Week: http://www.safespeed.org.uk/sscw.html
You can reach Paul Smith on 07799 045553 today.
Paul Smith is in London for Scrap Speed Cameras Week 24th-30th inc.