Fleet News

Driver error top cause for fatal accidents

Driver and rider error or reaction are behind the top three causes of fatal and serious crashes, new research from the IAM reveals today.

Licensed to skill: Contributory factors in accidents, presents the analysis of five years worth of accident data, recorded by the police between 2005 and 2009.

Factors including ‘failed to look properly' ‘loss of control' and ‘poor turn or manoeuvre', accounted for 65.3 per cent of fatal, 61.8 per cent of serious and 68.6 per cent of slight accidents. Injudicious action - illegal or unwise judgements - such as exceeding the speed limit, following too close, or making an illegal turn, was the second biggest factor, accounting for another 31.4 per cent of accidents. Alcohol was a relatively minor factor, listed in only ten per cent of fatal accidents.

Behaviour or inexperience came a close third, being a factor in 28.0 per cent of accidents. In contrast, physical circumstances such as road environment, factors affecting vision, and vehicle defects are listed as issues in very few accidents.

‘Travelling too fast for the conditions' accounts for more fatal accidents than ‘exceeding speed limit', which represent fourth and fifth places. Driving too fast isn't necessarily just a case of a legal requirement - you could be driving too fast for the conditions, without breaking any official speed limits at all.

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: "What is obvious from the top three rankings is that many accidents could be prevented by drivers simply changing their behaviour, as well as gaining more experience. That so many crashes are caused simply by the driver failing to look is shocking. On the positive side, there is plenty that drivers can do to reduce their risk of being involved in an accident.

"Having a driving licence doesn't necessarily mean that drivers have the skills they need to be safe. Professional drivers, like HGV drivers, participate in continuous professional development, improving their driving skills throughout their careers to reduce their accident rates, insurance costs and to increase their fuel efficiency - why is life-saving training not expected of those who drive for personal reasons?"

"The evidence is there. Accidents could be easily reduced by improving driver skills and lives could be saved - especially those of young drivers. The IAM calls on the government to introduce post-test training, to support young drivers through the most dangerous part of their driving career, and to improve their skills for the rest of their lives."

Top contributory factors were:

  • Driver/rider error or reaction
  • Injudicious action
  • Behaviour or inexperience
  • Road environment
  • Pedestrian only (casualty or uninjured)
  • Impairment or distraction
  • Vision affected
  • Special codes
  • Vehicle defects

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