A range of initiatives have resulted in a ‘spectacular’ 50% reduction in the number of deaths on Britain’s roads during the last two decades, according to a new report by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).
The UK is now top of the world’s road-safety league table, with half the number of road death rates in Austria, Belgium, Portugal and Luxembourg.
Fewer deaths doesn’t just reduce the number of grieving families, given that each fatality can cost the UK economy £1.79 million in lost output, health care, pain and suffering. Avoiding 31,000 in the last two decades has saved around £50 billion.
IAM Director of Policy and Research, Neil Greig, said: “The IAM calculates that achieving similar targets for road deaths by 2020 would save society 2,500 lives and the economy over £4 billion.”
“These staggering figures prove conclusively that investing in saving lives on the roads saves the country money, so funding being taken away from this area is a false economy,” he added. “Public bodies have more freedom than ever on where to spend their resources and we urge them to focus on the benefits to all road users and to the economy of investing in road safety education and awareness, training for younger drivers and riders, and targeted safety improvements to roads.”
Britain’s roads have never been safer, particularly compared with the bad years in the 60s and 70s when the death toll was between 6,000 and 8,000 a year. Since 1970, road traffic has increased by a factor of two and a half, but road deaths have fallen by more than two-thirds.
Rural roads are still the most dangerous, accounting for two-thirds of fatal and serious casualties, but have also shown a 40% reduction in deaths during the last 10 years. Motorways remain the safest roads in the UK.
Young drivers remain the most at-risk category. “With changes to the theory and practical parts of the driving test underway, and an ever-increasing focus on the risks faced by younger drivers, we hope that this number will continue to fall,” Greig added.