Road deaths on the rise – why speed isn’t to blame
Sean Carson examines the case of rising deaths on the UK’s roads and says why speed isn’t the determining factor
In 2011, 1,901 people tragically lost their lives in road traffic accidents – the first annual increase in fatalities on the UK’s roads since 2003 and a 3% increase over 2010.
A further 23,122 people were seriously injured, marking a 2% rise over 2010 figures and staggeringly, the first time the toll has risen since 1994. So what’s to blame for the upsurge in serious and fatal smashes?
Well, it’s not speed. That’s not to say speeding doesn’t directly correlate with accidents, but the point is it’s not the three-headed sole driver of deaths it’s often purveyed to be.
27% of blokes aged between 17 and 19 are involved in a road collision
Rather, it’s education that makes the difference. Sorry to bombard you with stats, but they illustrate the point quite nicely: in 2010 there were 283 fatalities among car occupants aged between 16 and 25. Concurrently, 27% of blokes aged between 17 and 19 are involved in a road collision within the first 12 months of passing their test.
Transport Committee data proves that this age group is the most vulnerable, and its education – or lack there of – that’s to blame. Drivers aren’t taught to drive these days, they’re taught to pass their driving test. It was the same for me.
Young motorists aren’t drilled as to the importance of knowing how to drive to the conditions – speed might be indirectly related here, but it’s arguably not gratuitous use of it. Instead, it’s the lack of knowledge and ability to assess the car, the surroundings and the conditions that is contributing towards the needless tally in the fatalities column.
Concentration levels can wane all too easily
On the subject of knowing your car, modern vehicles don’t help. Cars are so easy to drive nowadays that concentration levels can wane all too easily.
Sure, today’s Euro-boxes are safer than those of even 10 years ago, but if you’re not on your game at the wheel you’ve got less time to react – once you’re off the road the relative (marginal) safety improvements don’t matter.
Team that with the fact that there are more cars on the roads than ever today and you’ve got an environment conducive to collisions, simply due to the volume of traffic. Add in a lax attitude at the wheel and it’s not hard to see why death tolls continue to rise.
Are people aware that stopping distances double in the wet?
It’s not a cop out to explain the data either, but bad weather can play its part. This year’s summer has gone down the drain with the rest of the torrential rain we’ve been experiencing, but it can seriously affect safety on the roads.
Are people aware that stopping distances double in the wet? It returns to the education of drivers again – and we’re not just lobbying this at the young. Modern rubber is good and so are today’s safety systems, but they’re not wholly preventative crash measures.
You have to employ some common sense and knowledge behind the wheel. Often older drivers forget that too, having held a licence for years without incident.
Speed is a problem, but it’s not the be all and end all. If you educate better, speed will naturally come down. The Government needs to show more leadership to stop needless road deaths.
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- Queue jumping
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