National Accident Trends and Bus Accidents in London

Fatal accidents on Britain’s roads rose 4% to 1,792 last year. That’s the highest level since 2011 and is clear evidence that fatal accidents are not falling despite all the chest beating of politicians about excessive speeds, and millions of pounds spent on speed cameras, speed awareness courses and traffic calming.

The DfT say the change in fatalities are not statistically significant, but even more alarming is the KSI figure which was up 8% in 2016 over the previous year and which is more statistically significant. The slight injuries were only up 4% but that may have been particularly affected by a change in the reporting system and are notoriously senstive to “under-reporting”.

Explanations from the DfT are the impact of the weather, the fact that accidents tend to rise when the economy is bouyant, plus lots of other factors. Note that the growth in traffic is only a very minor possible factor, and more traffic congestion can actually reduce accidents.

So in summary, the UK road safety industry and its experts have been an abject failure since about 2011 when the accident figures started to flatline.

An example of political posturing that is irrelevant to tackling the real road safety problems is the ambition of the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, in his Mayor’s Transport Strategy to reduce injuries from bus collisions in London to zero. In reality data from TfL show the number of collisions have been rising – up from 22,676 in 2013 to 28,035 in 2016. The number of injuries also rose to 1,231 in 2016.

What might be the reasons for these increases? Possibly more cyclists on the roads, more pedestrians who cross the road without looking, many using their phones at the time, and lots of other factors. So the response of the Mayor is to look at speed limiting technology for buses and anti-collision sensors. Will they solve the problem? Nobody knows because there is no road accident investigation branch similar to those used for rail and aviation, as we have repeatedly called for.

In my view, only when Government politicians, the Mayor and TfL stop looking for quick answers to complex problems will we get some sense back into the road safety debate. In the meantime, it’s just a disgrace that nobody in power seems to be facing up to the reality that the UK is going backwards in road safety.

Roger Lawson


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Accident Statistics – An Inconvenient Truth

A very good analysis of the road traffic accident data in London is present on this web page: It has only recently been brought to my attention but it is definitely worth reading if you care about road traffic casualties.

It tackles the question of whether traffic calming, and in particular 20 mph speed limits, have the benefits claimed or are cost effective. One table in the report which I reproduce below is based on an analysis of the accident reductions in different boroughs with differing levels of traffic calming (it gives all the underlying data based on TfL figures if you want to check out your own London borough):

Level of traffic calming Reduction for
Deaths KSIs All
Low 42.21% 62.32% 38.71%
Moderate 53.54% 62.01% 37.11%
High 43.97% 57.07% 33.49%


As the report says, the correlation is the reverse of that normally claimed. It notes they are statistically significant although correlation does not necessarily imply causation.

The author of the report apparently has a keen interest in buses (most of his web site is about bus routes in the capital), and also says that most of his travel is by rail. So this is not the normal profile of a person who opposes traffic calming – indeed he seems most concerned about the delays to buses from wide area 20 mph schemes. But it is a very intelligent analysis of some of the issues and well worth reading.

Roger Lawson