Deaths on the road

It goes without saying that the crash of a plane onto the A27 on Saturday was a terrible tragedy, an incident in which at least 11 people died, and many more were seriously injured. Rightly, the crash is being investigated thoroughly, and undoubtedly measures will be taken to greatly lessen the chances of any similar kind of incident ever occurring again.

But what has happened following that crash on Saturday afternoon? On the same day – the 22nd August, shortly afterwards, a motorcyclist died in Manchester, a pedestrian was killed in Solihull, and a driver died on the M1.

On Sunday 23rd August, 3 people died in a car crash in County Down, a motorcyclist died on the A82 near Loch Lomond, a cyclist died in Essex, a motorcyclist died in the Peak District, a driver died in Lincolnshire, a motorcyclist died on the A40 in Cheltenham, and a driver died in the New Forest.

On Monday 24th August, teenager died in a motorcycle crash in London (with another teenager seriously injured), and a motorcyclist died on Anglesey.

On Tuesday 25th Augusttwo people died in a car crash in Doncaster – with one (and maybe two more) seriously injured, a driver died in Camarthenshire, and a driver died (with another driver seriously injured) on the diversion route from the A27, closed following the Shoreham crash.

This means that in the three and a half days following that dreadful air crash, 18 people have died on the U.K.’s roads, in crashes that, because they occurred in isolation, and because they are so appallingly ordinary, won’t make any headlines, or any lasting impact, beyond a fleeting mention in a local newspaper.

No lessons will be learned; nothing will change. All part of everyday life in Britain.

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11 Responses to Deaths on the road

  1. This needs to be said, and read widely. Thank you.

    When I saw this Honda TV advert this week I felt very uncomfortable. Please don’t watch it if you are feeling in any way anxious about yourself or your family. Those with a concern for road safety have a lot of very serious and very expensive competition for the attention span of people who buy cars.

  2. geoffrone says:

    I suspect it’s been pulled PDQ.

  3. Glad to read this, it’s something I’ve been thinking the past couple of days as well. Not to take anything away from the appalling tragedy at Shoreham, if the same logic were applied to the automobile industry and the traffic network in this country, we’d be living in a safer and more pleasant country.

  4. Kie says:

    Cyclist deaths are rare but minor and serious injuries are not and 80% of the time when a motor vehicle is involved – the driver is in part responsible.

    Once we have autonomous cars there will be no excuses for not revoking peoples drivers license for at least a year upon any driving infraction.

    I have my doubts that they can bring out autonomous cars within 3-5 years as Google have said, but I am hopeful.

  5. rdrf says:

    There has been a lot of very significant change.

    Unfortunately it is not what the official “road safety” industry would have us believe.

    It is, as John Adams and myself have noted, what was pointed out in the curve derived from the work of Reuben Smeed (the Smeed curve) showing declines in numbers of road deaths related to the amount of motorisation and levels of economic activity over time.

    Unfortunately, he process of societal adaptation underlying the changes involve greater wariness on the part f actual or potential pedestrians and cyclists (or their parents/carers), including not going into the road environment using feet/bicycles in the first place.

    As far as drivers are concerned, they have “learned” that with a variety of idiot-proofing measures for the car environment (seat belts, crumple zones, air bags, Side Impact Protection Systems etc.) and the highway environment (felling road side trees, installing crash barriers, anti-skid treatments, longer sight lines etc.) they don’t have to worry so much, so adapt to their perceptions of declining risk to the disbenefits of pedestrians and cyclists. A vast amount has indeed changed.

    Sometimes the adaptation is good – e.g. drivers slowing down for additional motor traffic in more congested conditions, sometimes not.

    So plenty of learning has been and continues to be going on all the time. The thing is, it is not in so many cases for the ultimate benefit of the more careful driver or pedestrians and cyclists.

  6. I think this matter ist related to that “85% percentile as a tool to “improve” road” thing in your post before. The preupposition to that is that road users are only car drivers. The car drivers ares the only ones whose moods are important. But, as accidents and victim numbers especially in urban areas show, they aren’t. Not to mention noise and pollution.

    Effect of 20 mph traffic speed zones on road injuries in London, 1986-2006: controlled interrupted time series analysis; http://www.bmj.com/content/339/bmj.b4469.full
    “Results The introduction of 20 mph zones was associated with a 41.9% (95% confidence interval 36.0% to 47.8%) reduction in road casualties, after adjustment for underlying time trends. The percentage reduction was greatest in younger children and greater for the category of killed or seriously injured casualties than for minor injuries”.

    The acceptance of speed limits is not only depending on road width and surface. That’s a technical view.
    Nearly hundred years of car use has established an underlying or overwhelming street culture which is visible in behaviour, in laws and in judgments. In Germany the killing of a pedestrian or cyclist in traffic is charged with about 2 or 3 k €. Even when the victim is killed because of red light running by the driver or speed limit violation. If the speed limit violation was “not so high” (“only” 70 instead of 50 km/h), the judge puts that in favor to the offender.

    NY Times “Is It O.K. To Kill Cyclists?” (2013, still worth reading)
    “…Russ swore cycling was harmless but confessed to awakening recently in a Level 4 trauma center, having been hit by a car he could not remember. Still, Russ insisted I could avoid harm by assuming that every driver was “a mouth-breathing drug addict with a murderous hatred for cyclists….” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/10/opinion/sunday/is-it-ok-to-kill-cyclists.html?_r=0

    Of course car drivers aren’t drug addicts in general. But in view of other road users, who are members of society too, they behave as. It’s legal, it is their right and it is commonly accepted.

    Speed and accidents. It’s a culture thing, more than a technical. Culture influences laws and vice versa. Netherland has changed the law, so that car drivers are always guilty when interfering with a cyclist comes to an accident. The traffic culture changed and accident numbers declined. Safety in numbers has a cultural and juridical impact and source.

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