Majority of collisions on Devon’s roads down to driver error


Posted on: 5 August 2015

Devon County Council is calling on all road users to help make the county’s roads safer.

Figures released by the County Council today (Wednesday 5 August) show the number of casualties on Devon’s roads in 2014 was 2,427 – a 1% increase on the previous year.

Despite this increase, Devon has maintained its commitment to reducing traffic collisions on the county’s roads, but with 80% of collisions down to driver error, it is urging people to play their part in improving safety.

The county’s major concern is the 9% increase in those killed or seriously injured in the last 12 months, with 337 recorded in 2014. Although there is a long term downward trend in fatal injuries, there were still 23 fatalities last year, compared with 16 in 2013.

Although our most vulnerable road users make up a tiny proportion of our traffic, they represent 52% of those suffering the most serious injuries. Motorcyclists, for example, make up just 1% of Devon traffic but 23% of all those killed or seriously injured.

Perhaps most striking is that 80% of all those incidents that involve serious injury also involve a car – and in nearly 90% of cases those involved will be local drivers, familiar with the roads but still making basic errors, lapses of judgement and concentration or engaging in violations. Although cars are commonly involved in these serious incidents, the figures demonstrate that it is often others who sustain the injuries.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “Deaths and serious injuries are rising across the UK as a whole, and it’s a concern that it’s also happening here in Devon. The figures show that the overwhelming majority of collisions are down to driver error, such as failing to look, failing to judge another person’s speed, going too fast for the conditions, and losing control of the vehicle. This is behaviour which can be changed if extra care and attention is taken. Every driver and rider in Devon has the ability to turn these figures around just by using the skills they already have to the best of their ability. We’re urging people to think about their actions when they’re out on the roads – however they may be travelling.”

Improving driving and riding standards is a priority for Devon’s Road Safety Team. The Learn to Live programme reaches over 10,000 young and trainee drivers each year. Support for older drivers reaches around 2000 each year, including specialised support for those with age related health issues. Although these groups remain over-represented in Devon’s serious collisions (compared to the numbers resident in Devon) both younger and older drivers saw a reduction in serious injuries last year compared to 2013.

“Our work with younger and older drivers demonstrates that we can help some of our most at-risk motorists to reduce the number of injuries they sustain,” said Councillor Hughes. “But people have to commit to developing and improving their driving – and making those small changes to their driving or riding which can have such a big effect on road safety in Devon.”

Posted in: Environment