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 2015-16, according to figures published by the Department for Transport (DfT). Reported road casualties in Great Britain: quarterly provisional estimates year ending March 2016.

The figures cover the period 1st April 2015 – 31st March 2016.

The number of people killed or seriously injured in accidents reported to the police rose by 2% to 24,610 in 2015-16. The number of people who died was almost identical to the previous year (1,780). But rising traffic volume over this period (1.8%) means that the fatality rate per billion vehicle miles decreased by 2 per cent.

Children aged 0-15

The overall increase in KSIs is reflected in the data for children aged 0-15 years, where the rate of increase is higher than that for road users of all ages. The number of children in this age group killed or seriously injured increased by 5% to 2,050 and child pedestrian KSIs increased by 3%. Child casualties of all severities increased by 0.3% compared with the previous year to 16,350. The child fatalities are included within the KSI figures and are not yet available separately.

The increases in casualties are more marked in the first quarter of 2016 with child KSIs increasing by 25% to 450 and child casualties of all severities increasing by 7%. Child pedestrian casualties increased by 19 per cent to 300.

Making sense of the new figures

The DfT report emphasises that the figures are provisional and subject to change and should be interpreted with caution. Data from some major police forces is missing. The changes are not statistically significant, so it is not clear whether there has been a real change is KSIs – the change might have come about by chance. The picture will be clearer when estimates are published in November 2016.

The long view

To assess whether a trend had been emerging before the latest figures, we have reviewed the data on KSIs over a six-year period. The table below covers the calendar years 2010-2015 for children aged 0-15 years.

Deaths were highest in 2011 and 2012 (60 and 61 respectively). After a 21% fall in 2013, they rose in 2014 and 2015 to numbers very similar to 2010 (53 and 54).

The number of children seriously injured also peaked in 2010 (2,447). After a decline between 2011-2013 the number seriously injured rose by 5% in 2014. However, in 2015 the figure dropped significantly to the lowest across the six-year period at 1,910, a reduction of close to 6% on the 2014 figure and 22% lower than the number in 2010.

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

Road user type

Killed

 

 

Seriously injured

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

Pedestrians

26

33

20

26

29

25

1,620

1569

1,525

1,332

1,350

1,258

Pedal cyclists

  7

  6

13

  6

  6

  6

   391

  392

   311

   276

   273

    272

Car occupants

18

17

27

13

18

19

   342

   315

   319

   273

   319

    315

Others (e.g. motorcycle, bus, coach, van)

  4

  4

  1

  3

  0

  4

     94

     76

     56

     51

     87

      65

All road users

55

60

61

48

53

54

2,447

2,352

2,211

1,932

2,029

  1,910

Source: STATS19, DfT National Road Traffic Surveys. Last updated: 30 June 2016 

Variation between different road users

The table above shows that the picture varies when you look at different road users:

  • Pedestrians: Pedestrian deaths were lowest in 2012 at 20 with an average across the six years of 27. The number of deaths in 2015 was 25.
  • Car occupants: Deaths and serious injuries among car occupants were lowest in 2013 (286) but rose again in 2014 to 337 and remained very close to that figure in 2015 (334).
  • Cyclists: Although the number of cyclists of all ages seriously injured has risen significantly in recent years, the increase is not reflected among children aged 0-15 years where the number has been reducing year on year with almost identical figures in 2014 and 2015 (279 and 278 respectively).

Conclusion

After worrying increases in child KSIs in 2010-2012, the numbers started to decline, but were pretty static between 2014 and 2015. The provisional figures for 2015-16 raise concern and are a reminder of the 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 drivers and other road users.

More information

  1. Reported road casualties in Great Britain: quarterly provisional estimates year ending March 2016.
  2. Road casualties great Britain Annual Report 2015
Updated September 2016