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Five people per day still dying on UK roads. But the trend is down

Road Safety West Midlands ambulance & fire service personnel in yellow hi viz inspecting an over turned car on a grass verge

There were 1,752 reported road deaths in 2019, similar to the level seen since 2012, which follows a period of substantial reduction in fatalities from 2006 to 2010.

The figures were reported in the government’s reported road casualties annual report for 2019


There were 25,945 serious injuries in road traffic accidents reported to the police in 2019. There was a total of 153,158 casualties of all severities in reported road traffic accidents in 2019. This is 5% lower than in 2018 and is the lowest level since 1979.


Accounting for a change in traffic, the rate of fatalities per billion vehicle miles has fallen by 4% from 5.06 in 2018 to 4.87 fatalities per billion vehicle miles in 2019.


The number of fatalities in 2019 (1,752) was 2% less than in 2018 (1,784), however, this small decrease may be due to natural variation. The trend in the number of fatalities has been broadly fat since 2010. Previously, and particularly between 2006 and 2010, the general trend was for fatalities to fall. Since that point, most of the year on year changes are either explained by one-of causes (for instance, the snow in 2010) or natural variation. The evidence points towards Britain being in a period when the fatality numbers are broadly stable.


Serious injuries

In 2019, there were 25,945 seriously injured casualties in reported road traffic accidents. This figure is as reported to the police and is not comparable to earlier years due to changes in severity reporting. From 2016 onwards, figures on the severity of injury have been affected by a large number of police forces changing their reporting systems. It is likely that the recording of injury severity is more accurate for forces using these new reporting systems. This has had a large impact on the number of serious injuries recorded in 2016 (24,101), 2017 (24,831), 2018 (25,511) and 2019 (25,945) compared with 2015 (22,144). Some of these serious injuries may previously have been classified as slight injuries which means that the 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 serious injury figures are not comparable to previous years and to each other.


Slight injuries

In 2019, there were 125,461 slightly injured casualties in reported road trafc accidents reported to the police. As explained in the previous section, this figure is as reported to the police.

Applying the severity adjustments methodology developed with the Office for National Statistics results in an estimated 121,262 slightly injured casualties, assuming that all police forces were using an injury-based severity reporting system.

The summary table below shows the number of reported road casualties in Great Britain in 2019 compared with previous years. Changes in unadjusted fgures are presented for wider context, but it is advised to use the adjusted fgures and changes to assess trends over recent years.


Percentage change from: 2019 2018 2009
Killed 1752 ↓ 2% ↓ 21%
Seriously injured (unadjusted) 25945 ↑ 2% ↑ 5%
Seriously injured (adjusted) 30144 ↓ 3% ↓ 21%
KSI (unadjusted) 27697 ↑ 1% ↑ 3%
KSI (adjusted) 31896 ↓ 3% ↓ 21%
Slightly injured (unadjusted) 125461 ↓ 6% ↓ 36%
Slightly injured (adjusted) 121262 ↓ 5% ↓ 33%
All casualties 153158 ↓ 5% ↓ 31%

At Defensive Driver Training we have been training company car, van and lorry drivers since 1989.  In that time we have trained over 250,000 drivers for thousands of companies across the UK and Europe.  When we started the company the casualty rate on UK roads was 14.5 per day.   Just for comparison, the death rate was 28 people per day in France.   To see the latest figures at at just under five people per day now is a great achievement.  But it is still five people who died unnecessarily,  and probably ten times that in people affected by the tragic waste of a life.


Around 65% of road traffic accidents are caused by human error alone.  Combine that with environmental factors such as fog, wet roads and weather,  and the figure rises to over 90%.  That’s 90% of of casualties that perhaps could have been avoided if the driver had received an advanced driving course.


Many of our trainers are former Police and Fire Service driver trainers.  They have been first responders at the scene of hundreds of fatal accidents. Their experiences is what motivates them to spend days of their retirement working for us to reduce the pointless number of fatalities from unnecessary accidents, particularly amongst younger drivers.


The seriously injured and fatality figures are improving, from 14 per day in 1989 to 5 per day in 2019.  Anecdotally, the  thinking amongst the emergency services is that this is due to a combination of factors.


Firstly there is far more traffic on the roads.  While this offers further opportunities for collisions,  the congestion leads to lower average speeds.


Secondly,  vehicle technology has changed beyond recognition.  ABS,  anti-skid prevention,  crumple zones,  air bags, seat belts, automatic braking systems etc,  take the decision making away from the driver.


Safer roads come in the form of more dual carriageways, more motorways,  and fewer A roads where collision speeds are far higher.  Despite what people think, motorways are the safest roads to drive on.


Finally the “Golden Hour”.  This is the crucial period of time of 60 minutes or less when prompt effective emergency care can mean a difference between surviving or not.  Historically an ambulance driver’s job was to get the patient to the hospital as fast as possible.  Today the ambulance crew will be a fully trained para-medics,  who will assess and carry out emergency treatment at the scene of the accident.


But the fact remains that human error is still the major factor in road traffic collisions.  A driver who has attended an advanced driving course is up to four times safer than a driver who has had no further training since passing their driving test.    If you would like more information about our range of defensive driving courses go to our website here,  or call us on 01384 442233.