Road traffic accidents down 41% in 50 years

Fatal car crash

The number of car crash fatalities in Britain has halved in the past 50 years, say figures from a new official study.

Numbers crunched by the Emergency Medicine Journal (EMJ)– an international peer-reviewed journal for health professionals – have revealed that since 1960, the number of annual road fatalities have fallen by an astonishing 41%.Road traffic accidents were as high as 1,647 in 1960 but that number had plummeted to 964 in 2009.

The EMJ also uncovered the fact that the number of children killed in crashes fell from 66 to in 1960 to 20 in 2009 - thanks in part to the development of child seat technology and huge improvements in car safety.

The tumbling numbers have been attributed to the introduction of compulsory seatbelt laws, tougher drink-driving laws, child safety improvements and the proliferation of speed cameras encouraging drivers to reduce speed in crash hotspots.

But despite the reduction in road traffic accident fatalities, the findings have revealed that there remains a socioeconomic split in the data. Researchers found that more women died in accidents than men and that the number of over-75s killed on the road increased considerably in 1990 before reducing again in 2009.

Commenting on the findings, RAC technical director David Bizley said: "Vehicle technology is widely acknowledged to have improved road safety and this may go some way towards explaining why the figures show that people from less well-off backgrounds are more likely to die in a car crash than those from more affluent backgrounds as this group will almost certainly be benefiting from the latest vehicle and in-car safety features.

"This would also be true of younger drivers as we unfortunately know that an 18-year-old is three times more likely to be involved in a crash than a 48-year-old."

He added: "Britain's roads are unquestionably safer than ever before. Over the last 25 years, the number of people killed or injured on our roads has fallen from 5,500 per year in the mid-1980s to fewer than 2,000 per year now. Over the same period, annual road casualties (killed or injured) have decreased from 240,000 (including 75,000 serious injuries) to just over 200,000 (including 23,000 serious injuries).

"Road casualty statistics for 2012 showed fatalities at their lowest ever level and that the number of people killed or seriously injured is actually very similar to 2010 which signifies that the longer term downward trend may have come to an end and may be plateauing.

"Research from the RAC Report on Motoring 2013 found the majority of motorists (86%) recognise that cars are safer today than they used to be and nearly two thirds of drivers (63%) believe in-car technology makes them feel safer than ever before.

"Despite the fact almost half of motorists (48%) think the authorities are not as interested in road safety as they used to be, more than a third (37%) agree the roads are safer today than before, rising to almost half (49%) of high mileage drivers."
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