Road traffic casualties and inujries have a long-term impact on the mental and physical health of individuals affected, including families and communities. Motor vehicle traffic accidents are a major cause of preventable deaths and morbidity, particularly in younger age groups.
Road traffic collisions are a major cause of deaths in children, and comprise higher proportions of accidental deaths as children get older. Parents cite vehicle speed and volume as reasons why they do not allow their children to walk or cycle, thereby reducing opportunities for physical activity and active travel which increases the risk of poor health outcomes in other areas, e.g. obesity.
The vast majority of road traffic collisions are preventable and costs to life can be avoided through investment in improved education, awareness, road infrastructure and vehicle safety.
Key inequalities and risk factors
Government data show that cars make up almost 80 per cent of road user type in Great Britain. However, casualty numbers by road user group are not proportionate:
- pedestrians, pedal cyclists and motorcyclist are most vulnerable and all account for disproportionately more casualties than would be expected given the distance travelled
- nationally, incidents and hospital admissions are higher for males than females, although this has declined over the last three years
- incidents and hospital admissions are higher for young cyclists than pedestrians aged 0-15
For children and for men aged 20-64 years, mortality rates for motor vehicle traffic accidents are higher in lower socioeconomic groups and areas of higher deprivation.
The 2014 Public Health England report, Reducing unintentional injuries on the roads among children and young people under 25 years sets out a number of risk factors for young people:
- males are at greater risk of being killed in traffic – more than three male children or young people die on the road for every female child or young person who dies
- highest rates of both hospital admissions and police-reported serious and fatal casualties result immediately after young people can start legally using cars and motorcycles
- in 2012, one in every 1,250 young people aged between 15 and 24 years suffered a serious or fatal traffic injury
- half of all young car occupant deaths occur between 8pm and 4am
There are also a number of geographic differences in the number of traffic injuries between local authorities. This is influenced by factors such as whether a local authority is predominantly rural or urban, deprivation, and population density.
Facts, figures and trends
Annually in September, the Department of Transport produces its annual report on road casualties in Great Britain.
According to Department for Transport figures (accessed 17 May 2016), there was a total of 194,477 casualties of all severities in reported road traffic accidents during 2014, the first increase in overall casualties since 1997. Average hospital admissions (based on figures between 2006-2011) amount to 38,972 and the average number of hospital stays of 2 or more days in the same period totals 16,587 nationally.
There were 1,775 reported road deaths in 2014, an increase of 4% compared with 2013. However, in context, there were 45 per cent fewer fatalities in 2014 than a decade earlier in 2005. The number of people seriously injured in reported road traffic accidents increased by 5 per cent to 22,807 in 2014, compared with 2013.
In Bracknell Forest, figures show the proportion of children aged 0-15 killed or seriously injured in road traffic accidents has fallen year on year at a greater rate than the south east and national figures (note that the actual number is small):
From 2005 all police forces in Great Britain have been reporting contributory factors to provide some insight into why and how road accidents occur and consider how accidents might be prevented. Factors include road conditions, weather conditions, skill and experience of driver, mobile phone use and impairment as a result of drugs and alcohol. Alcohol as a contributing factor to accidents is in decline:
Males are more likely to drive under the influence of drugs than females with the highest proportion in the 16-24 years age group according to self-reporting drug driving surveys.
However, official figures are likely to be under reported as factors are largely subjective, reflecting the opinion of the reporting police officer, and are not necessarily the result of extensive investigation. Some factors are less likely to be recorded since evidence may not be available after the event.
In 2014, the driver using mobile phone contributory factor was reported in only 1 per cent of fatal accidents and 0.5 per cent of serious accidents. Yet the Department of Transport survey suggests that 1.6 per cent of drivers use hand-held mobile phones whilst driving. It is unlikely that mobile phone use in accidents will be lower than the general driving prevalence as 2002 research (accessed 18 May 2016) shows that they are a considerable distraction to drivers.
In England, the number of collisions involving car drivers (aged 17 -24) leading to death or serious injury has fallen by 44% to 4,214 in 2014 against the 2005-09 baseline average of 7,516. Of which the number of collisions involving car drivers (aged 17 -24) leading to fatalities has fallen by 55% to 342 in 2014 against the 2005-09 baseline average of 765.
The Reducing unintentional injuries among children and young people (Public Health England, 2104) sets out three key actions that will have an important impact in reducing injuries and deahts namely:
- improving safety for children travelling to and from school
- introducing 20 mph limits in priority areas
- co-ordinated action known to prevent traffic injury and improve health such as encouraging active travel and creating liveable streets
Value of prevention
Detailed information on cost appraisal for transport planning can be found on the government website at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/transport-analysis-guidance-webtag
Costs of prevention are defined in two ways in the 2012 annual report as the amount of money the Government should spend to likely prevent all road accidents and the loss to society due to the current level of road accidents. Assessment of costs include a valuation of loss of earnings, non-wage payments made by employers, ambulance costs, costs of hospital treatment, damage costs to vehicles and property, police costs and administrative costs of accident insurance as well as the human costs of casualties such as grief and suffering.
The annual summary of costs of road casualties between 2012 and 2014 is as follows:
|£ 2012||£ 2013||£ 2014|
|Accident / casualty type||Cost per casualty||Cost per accident||Cost per casualty||Cost per accident||Cost per casualty||Cost per accident|
|Average for all severities||50,698||72,739||52,529||74,280||54,849||77,825|
Environment and wellbeing
Health and Wellbeing: Planning Guidance (DCLG, 2014) for local planning authorities should ensure that health and wellbeing, and health infrastructure are considered in local and neighbourhood plans and in planning decision making – safe travel environments being one such consideration. Public health organisations, health service organisations, commissioners and providers, and local communities should use this guidance to help them work effectively with local planning authorities in order to promote healthy communities and support appropriate health infrastructure.
The Public Health Child Profile for Bracknell forest shows that both nationally and locally, child casualties have declined over the last three years.
Department of Transport data tables also indicate that both locally and nationally older children are more at risk of road injury, with pedestrians being at highest risk.
Want to know more?
Good egg car safety – the website for the national ’Good Egg’ child car seat safety campaign has been adopted by the Council. Targeting all new parents with a purposefully designed booklet and hosting ‘Car Seat Clinics’ to check fitting, the Council has reduced the number of unsafe car seats used in vehicles on the borough’s roads.
Healthy Lives, Healthy People (Department of Health, 2010) – highlights the need to reduce road injuries in children and address the ‘strong social and regional variations’. Reports relating to the earlier cross-government “Staying Safe” strategy such as the “Staying Safe: Action Plan” (2008) and “Accident Prevention Amongst Children and Young People – A Priority Review” (2009) address child road safety issues in more detail.
Strategic Framework for Road Safety (Department for Transport, 2011 (updated 2012) – the government approach to continuing to reduce killed and seriously injured casualties on Britain’s roads which draws together and updates the wide-ranging issues that will need to be addressed to reduce road casualties.
Reducing unintentional injuries among children and young people (Public Health England, 2104) – Action areas for local authorities and their partners to help develop injury prevention strategies for children and young people. Guidance is split out to address issues relating to children under 5s and young people under 25 and highlights 3 key actions for impact in reducing injury and death.
Think! – provides road safety information for road users to encourage safer behaviour to reduce the number of people killed and injured on roads every year.
This page was created on 27 February 2014 and updated on 21 June 2016. Next review date September 2017.
Cite this page:
Bracknell Forest Council. (2016). JSNA – Road Safety. Available at: jsna.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/developing-well/children-and-young-peoples-wellbeing/road-safety (Accessed: dd Mmmm yyyy)
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