What do they say in the finance world? ‘Past performance is no guarantee of future results.’
The same, unfortunately, tragically, could be said of road casualty figures. After a decline every year since 2003 in the number of people killed on Great Britain’s roads there has now been an increase.
In 2010, 1,850 people died. Last year that figure had grown to 1,901.
The number of people killed or seriously injured also rose – from 24,510 to 25,023.
Overall, including those people only slightly hurt, there was a slight drop in casualties: from 208,648 to 203,950.
The change cannot be accounted for by a rise in traffic as the volume in 2011 (303.3 billion miles) was only marginally up on the previous year (303.2 billion miles).
It is notable that car drivers and passengers make up less than half of those killed with pedestrians in particular also paying a heavy price in terms of lives lost. There was a particularly stark rise in those on foot being killed, up 12% to 453.
But why are more pedestrians dying in greater numbers? Is it due to more and more people being distracted by using mobile phones and listening to music? Most of these deaths will have been on urban roads managed by local authorities, the same local authorities for whom central government has removed casualty reduction targets and slashed road safety budgets. The concern is that there is a direct link between these factors.
While one should treat a single year’s data with caution these figures are sobering. Clearly casualty reduction is not a one way street.