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.”
The Department of Transport’s Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: 2014 Annual Report says there were 1,775 reported road deaths in 2014, an increase of 4% compared with 2013.
It added the number of people seriously injured in reported road traffic accidents increased by 5% to 22,807 in 2014.
A total of 194,477 people were killed or injured in reported road accidents in 2014, the first increase in overall casualties since 1997.
And the most common factor which contributed to accidents in 2014 was drivers failing to look properly.
The IAM is especially concerned that pedestrians accounted for three quarters of the increase in fatalities between 2013 and 2014. Pedestrian fatalities increased by 12 per cent from 398 in 2013 to 446 in 2014 (all statistics: reference 1).
The IAM urges the government to take radical steps to reverse these worrying figures before they become a long-term epidemic, in particular that pedestrian protection must be made a much higher priority, and the decline in numbers of police traffic officers must be reversed at the earliest opportunity.
Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, said: “These figures are very worrying, especially the fact that driver behaviour remains the top cause of crashes.
“We are clear on what needs to be done here. We call again for road safety targets to be reintroduced – they are an internationally recognised way of ensuring reductions are measured and achieved.
“There also must be a greater focus on driver and rider quality and incentives for companies and individuals to continuously develop their skills.
“There also needs to be a focus on tackling pedestrian deaths, an area which is often ignored. We believe that car technology and design should now shift from occupant protection to protecting the vulnerable outside cars.”
Neil suggested manufacturers should pursue developments like pop-up bonnets, pedestrian airbags and detector systems.
He added: “We also need better pedestrian facilities to segregate traffic and vulnerable users where speeds are high, and campaigns to educate pedestrians themselves as they are most often at fault in crashes.”