Child road casualties rise

The wider context – road users of all ages

The number of road deaths, seriously injured (KSI) and total casualties all increased year on year in 2014, according to figures just published by the Department for Transport (DfT).

The headline figures (for all ages) show 1,775 fatalities in 2014, an increase of 62 deaths (4%) compared to 2013. The DfT points out that this is still the third lowest year on record.

The number of people seriously injured in accidents reported to the police rose by 5% to 22,807 in 2014 - the first rise in serious injuries since 1994. Overall, there were 194,477 reported casualties in 2014, up 6% from 2013.

Children aged 0-15

The overall increase in KSIs is reflected in the data for children aged 0-15 years. There were 53 deaths, (five more than in 2013) and the number of children in this age group seriously injured increased by 5% to 2,029.

Increase in deaths

There were increases in child fatalities among pedestrians (an increase from 26 to 29) and also among car occupants where the increase was from 13 to 18 between 2013 and 2014.

Peaks in data

To assess whether a trend is emerging we have reviewed the data on KSIs over a five year period. The table below covers 2010-2014 for children aged 0-15 years. Deaths were highest in 2011 and 2012 and the number of children seriously injured also peaked in 2010. After a decline in each year (2011-2013) the number seriously injured rose by 5% in 2014.

Variation between different road users

The picture varies when you look at different road users. For example, pedestrian deaths were lowest in 2012 and have risen by 45% since then (9 deaths). Deaths and serious injuries among car occupants were lowest in 2013 but have risen again in 2014, with a 38% increase in deaths and a 17% increase in children seriously injured. But the significant rise in the number ofReported casualties by road user type, Children age 0-15 years killed and seriously injured (KSI), Great Britain 2010-14 cyclists of all ages seriously injured was not reflected among children aged 0-15 years where the number reduced very slightly.

Reported casualties by road user type, Children age 0-15 years killed & seriously injured (KSI), Great Britain 2010-14

Making sense of the new figures

Commenting on the data as a whole, DfT has stated that it did not believe that the increases were statistically significant, which means that that it does not consider the changes to be part of an underlying trend.

But the increases across all age groups especially among the over 60s have caused concern among a number of national organisations, with the RAC calling for a new national strategy on road safety stating that, ‘ ... it does appear that the days of annual reductions in road casualties now appear to be well and truly over.’ BRAKE has also called for the reintroduction of ‘ambitious casualty reduction targets, with an ultimate aim of reducing deaths and serious injuries on our roads to zero’. The coalition government removed national (UK) casualty reduction targets in 2010.

The picture for children aged 0-15 is more complex, and the chart above shows that the number of children who have died or been seriously injured has fluctuated over the past five years depending on road user type, but the increase in deaths and serious injuries in 2014, within the overall context of similar increases among road users of all ages, raises the fear that past progress is stalling. This must be avoided.

There is an ongoing need to retain both a national and local focus on road safety – especially for the most vulnerable users.  Engineering, educational and enforcement interventions including 20mph limits in priority areas are necessary for long-term sustained reduction in serious injuries.  These in turn need to target both drivers and other road users.

 

Updated July 2015