The Government has been told to “get a grip” on road safety and reintroduce casualty reduction targets to reverse the recent rise in deaths and serious injuries.
Figures published by the Department for Transport (DfT) show that 1,775 people died on the roads in Great Britain last year – a 4% increase on 2013.
The number of people seriously injured in reported road traffic accidents also increased, up 5% to 22,807, and a total of 194,477 people were killed or injured, the first increase in overall casualties since 1997.
“We should be under no illusions as to the seriousness of these figures,” said Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of the road safety charity Brake.
“The Government needs to get a grip of this situation and it can start by reintroducing ambitious casualty reduction targets, with an ultimate aim of reducing deaths and serious injuries on our roads to zero.”
Targets were scrapped by the coalition Government in 2010 and the current Conservative administration told Fleet News (April 30) that it did not need “an arbitrary number” to prove its commitment to saving lives.
Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), said: “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.”
The fleet industry also called for the reintroduction of targets in the Fleet Industry Manifesto, which was published prior to the last general election.
The wishlist drawn-up by Fleet News, in collaboration with British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) and fleet decision-makers’ trade body ACFO, said targets were critical in continuing the downward trend in road deaths.
At the time, Gerry Keaney, chief executive of the BVRLA, said: “No targets, no guidance and no reporting is a recipe for continued work-related carnage on our roads.”
It is estimated that a third of people killed or seriously injured on Britain’s roads were driving for work.
Alan Prosser, director of the TTC Group, which educates 320,000 road users each year to cut casualties, said: “Every year there are more than 500 deaths and thousands of people injured driving at work.
“Nearly all these casualties are preventable and it’s costing companies millions. The human cost is incalculable.”
Looking at collisions according to a vehicle type, the DfT statistics show that fatalities involving a van or light goods vehicle (LGV) increased year-on-year from 153 to 169, while HGV deaths fell from 270 to 265.
The HGV figure is 43% lower than a decade ago, but the Freight Transport Association (FTA) says operators and drivers will remain vigilant about minimising harm on the UK’s road system.
Christopher Snelling, head of national and regional policy and public affairs at the FTA, said: “We want to keep going as an industry to play our part in making road transport is as safe as it can be.
“Improved HGV vehicle designs and safety features, as well as improved driver training and management, will be part of this.”
An increase in traffic levels, up 2.4% in 2014, may account partly for the overall increase in deaths and injuries.
Nick Lloyd, road safety manager at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: “As our economy improves, we can expect traffic levels to continue to increase, so we must do everything we can to make sure this does not lead to even more increases in road crashes and casualties.”
The road safety charity has called for a range of measures to help prevent road-related deaths and injuries. They include ensuring there are sufficient numbers of road police officers to properly enforce road safety laws, with more targeted road policing of the minority of drivers who put themselves and others at risk by speeding, drink driving and using mobile phones.
RoSPA is also calling on employers to reduce the risks their staff face and create when they drive or ride for work, and the introduction of safer vehicles into the fleet as quickly as possible as vehicle technology improves.