According to the RAC Foundation, one of the UK’s most recognised motoring research organisations, over 1,792 people were killed on Britain’s roads during 2016, thus representing an increase of some 4% compared to the 1,730 which were reported during 2015.
Fortunately, this still represents a positive reduction of 44% fewer fatalities compared to a decade earlier in 2006, although a definite shift in reporting systems (such as “CRASH”, which is now operated by most police stations) means that figures can’t ever be completely compared with those which were reported during 2015.
It’s now proposed that, going forward into future months that these figures will be much more comprehensive and more accurately streamlined, as each reporting mechanism is now being made available to the various authorities who are responsible for producing accurate statistics.
Since 2010, the trend in the number of fatalities has remained broadly flat, although most subsequent year-on-year changes have generally been explained either through one-off causes or natural variation. Whatever the stats, evidence firmly points towards the UK now being in a period where the number of fatalities is fairly stable and most changes, in fact, relate to random variation.
In this article, we take a closer look at what are currently considered to be the five top common causes of car accidents.
Despite the many drink-driving campaigns which continue to operate across the UK (particularly during the festive season), drink-driving remains one of the top causes of car accidents and in fact, the number of deaths caused by drink-driving rose quite substantially during 2016, with 240 drink-driving related deaths being recorded on Britain’s roads alone. Reference
Consequently – and whilst the Department for Transport have again acknowledged these rather alarming figures, albeit in light of new reporting systems – they’ve also described the provisional rise from 200 deaths in 2015 as “statistically significant” and still representative of around 13% of all road deaths during 2016.
As might well be expected, then, there has been much response from road safety agencies concerning these specific figures and drivers are continually encouraged to take “none for the road” instead of risking just that odd glass (or two) whilst still remaining responsible for a vehicle or motorbike.
Indeed, evidence from across the globe tends to suggest that much lower drink drive limits and increased police enforcement would certainly go at least some way to help bring the rather disturbing figures down although unfortunately, for the UK at least, this yet remains to be seen.
Failure to look!
Unfortunately, whilst it might seem like the most likely thing to do on the roads, “failure to look properly” still remained one of the most frequently reported contributory factors to car accidents during 2016 and in fact, was reported in 42% of all car accidents. [Contributory factors for reported road accidents (RAS50), reported road accidents statistics tables, produced by the Department for Transport. Published 26 September 2013 and last updated 28 September 2017: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/ras50-contributory-factors] What’s more, for accidents where a pedestrian was injured or killed, 54% of accidents were due to the pedestrian not looking properly and a further 25% were caused due to a pedestrian’s careless behaviour.
Loss of control
In the same Government report, it was found that 30% of car accidents were caused due to a driver’s loss of control. Loss of control can quickly happen for a number of reasons and reports tell us that these can typically include:
- Driver distractions (such as setting or re-setting a sat nav system whilst driving), listening to loud music, talking to fellow passengers, attempting to pacify children or attempting to use a hand-held device such as a mobile phone or music device.
- Failing to take account of external factors (such as weather conditions, traffic signs and temporary roadworks)
- Failure to stay alert whilst behind the wheel, thus not being able to react accordingly to any potential problems – such as the vehicle in front suddenly braking or someone stepping out in front of the vehicle.
- Not paying attention to the actions of other drivers (whether immediate or simply ‘likely’). Typical examples of these often include not properly predicting a certain driver reaction or not looking ahead for potential hazards – particularly when driving on the motorway and therefore, at considerable more speed than other road types.
Unfortunately, speeding also remains among the top five reasons for car accidents and yet, in the vast majority of cases, could so easily be avoided. In a direct response to reduce the number of speeding offences across the UK, Courts now have the authority to disqualify drivers should they incur up to 12 penalty points on their licence within a period of three years and new drivers can have their licence revoked altogether if they build up 6 or more penalty points within the first 2 years of passing their test. These don’t all have to relate to speeding, although evidence tends to suggest that the highest offenders are aged between 17 and 24; therefore, they are most representative of those who have recently passed their driving test.
Whilst many drivers aren’t too willing to put their hands up and admit liability when something goes wrong, driver error actually accounted for 65% of fatalities during 2016. Contributory factors included failing to look properly, loss of control (through the driver, not vehicle fault) and either poor turns or manoeuvring thus resulting in a road traffic collision.
Unfortunately, in addition to causing accidents, driver errors can also result in reduced payouts from the driver’s insurance company since contributory negligence is most likely to be raised – particularly in cases where a third party might be looking to claim compensation.
Whilst, then, we’ve had a very brief insight into the five common causes of car accidents there are, of course, a whole wealth of reasons why these continue to happen on roads across the UK.
In response to the many statistics produced by Government bodies and other associated agencies, there are numerous ways within which drivers are currently both deterred – and assisted – when it comes to the many issues surrounding road safety and yet there remain so many fatalities and injuries across Britain’s roads.
Thankfully, there are further proposals in the pipeline which are specifically aimed at reducing the current accident statistics. These include an intended Graduated Driving Licensing (or ‘GDL’) scheme which certainly has the full support of Prime Minister, Teresa May, who only this month (February 2018) advised that she would consider its introduction whilst also be asking the Department of Transport for support, read more.
Hopefully then, with continued support, and increased driver education, high accident statistics will soon become a thing of the past and this can only be a very welcome proposition for road users everywhere.