Last year saw the highest annual road deaths total since 2011 while road traffic accidents (RTAs) rose by 9% – figures which suggest greater emphasis needs to be placed on road safety training.
The figure for RTAs last year was 24,101 – up 9% on 2015 – while there were 1,792 reported road deaths, an increase of 4% on 2015 and the highest total in the last seven years.
And according to the Department for Transport, road crashes in 2015 cost the British economy an estimated £35.55bn including human costs and lost productivity.
The increases are partially being attributed by the government to changes in the way many police forces now report collision data.
Approximately half of English police forces adopted the CRASH (Collision Recording and Sharing) system for recording road traffic collisions at the end of 2015, or the early part of 2016.
In addition, the Metropolitan Police Service switched to a new reporting system called COPA (Case Overview Preparation Application) from September 2016.
With CRASH and COPA, the police officer records the type of injuries suffered by the casualty rather than the severity, which is measured simply as ‘slight’ or ‘serious’. Both are designed to eliminate any uncertainty that arises from the officer having to use their own judgement – and therefore be more accurate.
As a result of the increase in the figures, road safety charity Brake is now calling for a road collision investigation branch, similar to those already in existence for air, rail and sea, so that lessons can be learned to prevent future crashes.
The organisation would also like to see mandatory lessons on rural roads for learner drivers under a graduated licensing system that also includes a minimum learning period.
And the charity also says there should be a review of speed limits on rural roads – where most deaths occur – and standard fitment of ‘Voluntary Intelligent Speed Adaptation’, which helps drivers keep within the limit, as part of proposals being considered by the European Commission.
We believe that company fleet managers can go some way to helping protect drivers by specifying a minimum level of safety equipment in their cars.
Such features could include:
Brake assist – most drivers never press the pedal hard enough in an emergency. Brake assist does, in conjunction with the ABS, to give more control in an emergency situation.
Forward collision warning – cameras or radars scan the road ahead for potential accidents and alert the driver with a visual warning if they haven’t reacted.
Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) – this works in association with the above. If no action is taken by the driver, the car will initiate emergency braking. It works particularly well in cities and can detect pedestrians unseen by the driver or prevent those low speed collisions.
Blind spot monitoring – a great system that provides a visual alert if you are about to move over into the path of a fellow road user that you’ve missed in that area behind your head, either right or left.
Attention Assist which senses if a driver is becoming drowsy and warns them to take a break before it’s too late.
The good news is that many of these features are standard or come as part of a package with additional safety features thrown in.
The other area where fleets can assist drivers in being safer is to remind them of the danger areas to drive: the majority of road deaths occur on non-built up roads, with only 93 on motorways, making the motorway still the safest place to drive.
With the clocks going back at the end of this month, this is a notorious time of year for accidents as drivers fail to become accustomed to the changed and darker driving conditions.
If you would like some assistance on helping set improved safety conditions for car choice then the team here at Fleet Alliance would be happy to assist. Our aim is to help reduce the number of accidents and fatalities on our roads.