The number of people who have died in car crashes in England and Wales has dropped by 41 per cent over a 50 year period, according to a paper in the Emergency Medicine Journal.
The University of Nottingham looked at figures from the Office of National Statistics from 1960 to 2009. It found the number of deaths dropped from 1,647 in 1960 to 964 in 2009 ─ a decrease of 41 per cent.
Over that period the figures show 102,196 people were killed in road traffic accidents, or RTAs for short, while car ownership increased an average of 3 per cent every year. It also found men were more likely to die than women in every year studied.
Deaths involving infants and children saw a 70 per cent decrease, from 66 in 1960 to 20 in 2009. This is in contrast to the over-75s category, which saw an increase of deaths from 68 to 109. It’s a surprising figure until you bear in mind the average life expectancy is greater than it was and the elderly are driving longer than ever.
The decrease in deaths is down to a number of factors, the journal reported, including safer cars, child safety seats, speed cameras, drink-driving curbs and better medical care.
“The reductions in road deaths over the last five years or so have been particularly substantial, although this is partly due to the effects the economic downturn and periods of unusually poor weather on the level of driving,” Royal Society of the Prevention of Accidents road safety head Kevin Clinton commented.
“However, as the EMJ report identifies, not everyone has benefited equally from these improvements in road safety, and people from less well off backgrounds suffer a disproportionate share of the risk. We also need to focus on specific groups of road users who face higher risks, especially cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists and young, novice drivers,” he added.
RAC technical director David Bizley added: “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.”
Young drivers are more likely to crash than any other age group, which is why the government is considering measures that could potentially reduce road accident death and injury figures. This includes raising the minimum driving age to 18 and forcing new drivers to display ‘P’ probationary plates for the first year after passing.