Slower economy puts the brakes on road deaths

The economic downturn is dramatically cutting the number of deaths on Britain’s roads: since Britain went into recession the number of people killed on Britain’s roads has fallen by more than a third, from 2,946 in 2007 to 1,901 in 2011. This is according to a new report from TRL, to be announced at a PACTS conference in London later this month.
Louise Lloyd, senior statistician at TRL will highlight the trends behind the numbers: how the economic mood of the UK is resulting in a fall in traffic volumes as motorists cut out discretionary journeys; how drivers are sticking to slower speeds to save fuel costs; drink-drive casualties are declining as people sacrifice nights out; and the squeeze on spending is resulting in a drop in young males taking their driving tests.
“It appears that in prosperous years people may have been over-confident in their driving style, taking more risks with speed and drink-driving for example,” she says. “External influences such as the recession and weather patterns have caused people to be more cautious about their safety on the roads, leading them to drive more carefully. It is this change in behaviour which is directly affecting the number of fatalities on our roads.”
The conference will also hear what drivers really think and how attitudes have changed over time, as AA President, Edmund King dispels some of the myths over issues such as attitudes to speed cameras, drink drive limits and frequency of MOT.  He warns: “Governments and opposition parties often assume they know what motorists think in a stereotypical way but when it comes to safety they quite often get it wrong.
“The driver is not always a Mr Toad or a Mr Clarkson.”
The conference will focus on the theme “Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics”. Minister for Road Safety, Stephen Hammond MP, will give the opening address, with a range of other experts tackling the facts behind the headlines.
It is chaired by Will Moy, director of FullFact, the independent fact-checking organisation that promotes accuracy in public life. Anticipating the programme of the day, he says:
“We can only answer the questions about road safety and driving trends properly by getting down to the nitty-gritty facts, and really engaging with the meaning behind statistics. We need debate built on figures and research produced to high standards, not the hearsay and faulty information that passes under the banner of fact.”
PACTS Executive Director, David Davies, comments: “TRL’s findings are based on work commissioned by Surrey County Council. While Surrey is to be congratulated, it is worrying that that the Government has not led on such important research.”
The PACTS conference Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics? Understanding casualty trends and the causes is the Royal College of Surgeons on 21 March.
The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) is a registered charity and an associate Parliamentary Group. Its charitable objective is “To protect human life through the promotion of transport safety for the public benefit”.
Further media information:
David Armstrong/Becky Hadley                 020 7808 7997
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