Road safety: review of UK & European data23 Jan 2013

Snow and ice bring hope of road death reduction

The recent bleak winter weather is likely to have reduced the number of people being killed and seriously injured on Britain’s roads.

Evidence from previous years suggests that periods of snow and ice actually lead to lower levels of traffic, lower speeds amongst those drivers who do venture out and hence less serious accidents when they do occur.

In 2010, 1,850 people were killed on Britain’s roads. The Department for Transport believes that “… sustained periods of snow and ice… in the first and fourth quarters of 2010 contributed to the highest ever fall (17 per cent) in a single year in fatalities.”

The severe weather was not repeated in 2011 and that is likely to be one of the reasons why the number of fatalities in that year rose slightly to 1,901 (which is the equivalent of roughly 5 deaths every day).

But the fluctuations in the statistics caused by the weather risk obscuring the underlying road safety picture. Although Britain currently has one of the best road safety records in Europe it is also ranked in the bottom 25 per cent of 29 European countries in terms of its vision for cutting death and injury on the road network in the future.

The analysis is contained in a new RAC Foundation publication, Road Safety: A review of UK and European data.