IAM RoadSmart, a charity dedicated to reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured on the roads, is involved in lobbying for improvements in road safety standards and leading the road safety debate with central government and within the motoring community. IAM RoadSmart is an advocate for lifelong personal development of driving and riding skills.
IAM RoadSmart analyses multiple issues and viewpoints when considering ways to improve road safety, not least those of its, 92,000 members. Human factors are one of these – how the driver (or rider) interacts with the journey, the vehicle and the external world – as highlighted by the 2016 government report on road casualties: “All accidents have a cause and that cause is often someone making a mistake or exhibiting dangerous or thoughtless road behaviour”.
The 2017 IAM RoadSmart Safety Culture Index, a study of UK motorists’ attitudes towards driving. The report highlighted that the main areas of concern amongst motorists (who took part in the survey), included: Using a mobile phone whilst driving, aggressive driving and drug driving.
Whilst the UK has seen massive reductions in the number of people killed and seriously injured on the roads over the decades, that figure has plateaued at just over 1,700 in recent years (reported road fatalities were 1,792 in 2016, 1,732 in 2015, 1,775 in 2014 and 1,713 in 2013. Reported serious injuries were 24,101 in 2016, 22,137 in 2015, 22,801 in 2014 and 21,657 in 2013).
Added to this, we are less than two decades away from driverless cars becoming popular on our roads. An important area of consideration is how driverless cars will exist on the roads alongside conventionally driven vehicles. What is certain is that the debate will not disappear as technology plays a bigger role in our motoring lives, and IAM RoadSmart will continue to play a central role in it.
IAM RoadSmart’s director of policy and research, Neil Greig, said: “Five years of flat lining road deaths is unacceptable. The huge gains in road safety made in the past now seem a distant memory. The government must show more leadership to really drive down road deaths in the future.”
Police can record up to six contributory factors from a list of 77 for each incident to explain why they think a crash took place but the top two give the most obvious reasons for the incident. Analysis of the 2013 contributory factor combinations shows that top of the list was ‘failure to look properly’ combined with a ‘failure to judge another person's path or speed’. These two together were responsible for 13,299 accidents, or 7% of the total number.
Next up was ‘failure to look properly’ combined with ‘carelessness or recklessness’, or ‘judged to be in a hurry’. These totalled 9,132 accidents, or 5% of the total.
Third was ‘failure to judge another driver’s path or speed’, combined with ‘carelessness or recklessness’, or ‘judged to be in a hurry’. Together these were judged to be a causation factor in 4,339 accidents, or 2% of the total.
This combination of reasons showed an increase from 2010 of 363, where there were 8,638 accidents caused by these two together.
Other reasons to emerge from the data were more than 3,000 accidents caused by ’slippery roads due to weather conditions’ combined with ‘loss of vehicle control’ (number seven on the list) and 1,470 accidents caused by ‘excessive speed’ combined with’ losing control of the vehicle’ (number 17).
Failure to look appears twice more in the top 20 with ‘aggressive driving’ combined with ‘carelessness or recklessness’, or ‘judged to be in a hurry’ bottom of the list. These were the cause of 1,418 accidents.
The top 20 combinations of reasons totalled some 200,074 accidents. The full table can be downloaded below.
Sarah Sillars, IAM chief executive officer, said: “These figures show conclusively that simple human errors continue to cause the majority of accidents. Drivers cannot blame something or someone else for a collision happening, it is down to every one of us to make a difference.
“We feel that many people eventually get complacent behind the wheel and inattention creeps in. Combine this with fatigue and distractions, inside and outside the vehicle and the message is clear that drivers must apply their full attention to driving – you simply cannot do two things at once if one of them is driving.
“We have consistently advocated that continuous assessment is one of the main ways to ensure no driver gets into bad behaviours that cannot then be rectified.”
Two weeks ago the Department for Transport (DfT) published the latest accident statistics for Britain which showed overall casualties have risen for the first time in 18 years.
The figures show there were 1,775 reported road deaths in 2014, an increase of 4% compared with 2013. The number of those killed or seriously injured in Britain increased by 5% to 24,582. There were a total of 194,477 casualties of all severities, an increase of 6% - the first increase in overall casualties since 1997 (reference 1).