In publishing figures that show in 2006 the number of people killed and seriously injured on Britain’s road has dropped 33% on its baseline 1994-98 average, the government claims it is on track to reach the 40% reduction target it set itself in 2000.
However, there is criticism that the claim does not reflect what is actually going on, because the reporting structure used by the police, called STATS19, is vulnerable to changes in structure and reporting, clouding the real levels of injuries and death.
According to Paul Smith, founder of road safety campaigners Safe Speed, the figures do not tally with the number of road users needing hospital treatment.
He said: “It has been perfectly obvious for years that something has been going wrong with the serious injury statistics because they have been out of kilter with other data sources.
“In 2006 the British Medical Journal published hospital data showing clearly that the numbers admitted to hospital had not declined for a decade. Over the same period Department for Transport serious injury figures had declined by 35%.
“It’s a smokescreen clearly designed to hide the fact that their targets are being missed by a country mile.”
The DfT says there are plans to link hospital and police records, and claims that there could be discrepancies between the two currently because of an increased number of casualties only dealt with in accident and emergency and so both entered in the reporting structure, and a difference between what police and doctors terms a “serious” injury.
Compared with the 1994-98 average baseline, in 2006: