England’s Killer Roads?

On BBC Panorama ‘Britain’s Killer Roads’ last night, we hear:

The figure for people killed on our roads is 1 600 a year….For the past decade it stayed broadly the same but in 2020, the death rate rose by 5% – the most significant increase in 40 years.


These are Department of Transport data for 2020 in England and not for Britain as a whole. That they went up in 2020, a time of reduced traffic due to the pandemic is remarkable.

In Scotland?

Some 1666 people were either killed or seriously injured on Scotland’s roads last year – despite the Covid lockdown curbing people’s movement.

It amounts to a 38% drop from 2019 when there were 2692 serious casualties.

According to Department for Transport data, the numbers who were killed on Scottish roads only fell by 13% from 165 in 2019 to 143 last year.

In its latest publication the Scottish Government states there was an original ambition for a 40 per cent reduction in the number of people killed by 2020 but the actual figure was 52 per cent.

Similarly, the 2020 target of a 55 per cent reduction in those seriously injured was exceeded, with an actual figure of 68 per cent.

Originally it was hoped 2020 would deliver a 50 per cent reduction in the number of children killed below the age of 16. Instead the figure was 76 per cent down on the 2009 figure.


The reasons for the increased ‘UK’ deaths and casualties, confidently offered, are fewer working speed cameras and traffic police officers.

Composite figures for reductions in traffic officers are presented but with no breakdown for Scotland and England.

1 600 deaths in England would translate, all things being equal, to 160 in Scotland but is 12% higher than the actual figure of 143.

It’s the ‘All casualties’ figures that surprise most with 4 992 in Scotland and 106 634 in England. Pro rata, you’d expect England to have nearer 50 000. This indicates that accidents resulting in an injury of some kind are twice as common on England’s roads.


3 thoughts on “England’s Killer Roads?

  1. “The reasons for the increased ‘UK’ deaths and casualties, confidently offered, are fewer working speed cameras and traffic police officers” – On the clip advertising the programme, that was what I gleaned from the first segment, and thought it trite and flawed.
    Small villages are frequently annoyed the speed limit is not observed, but breaking the law driving at 37 in a 30 zone rarely causes an accident let alone a fatality – A speed camera only regulates the locale under threat of prosecution.

    There is no question Police numbers in England have been savaged, forces having to cover ALL aspects of policing with stretched resources, with the dedicated traffic units are still expected to cover vast areas with multiple demands for their deployment.

    Speed CAN be a contributory factor in an accident, but as Youtube dashcam clips regularly demonstrate, stupid risks, lack of observation, and lack of consideration for other road users are the dominant cause of serious and fatal accidents.
    These are rarely witnessed by a police officer and recorded on the onboard camera, leaving forensic reconstruction and investigation to establish cause.

    Even were you to double present numbers of officers and cameras it would barely dent the problem, the most dangerous nut on a car is the one behind the wheel, how you regulate that remains the puzzle.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. John do you think BBC might anticipate your complaint? Stewartb mentioned yesterday that this Panorama programme was being plugged on Scotland section of their website but NOT in England, Wales or NI

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The only Scottish road featured on the programme was the A82 around Loch Lomond, a well known death trap, a narrow road with multiple twists and turns where people drive too fast for the nature of the road. That was the only evidence the show could present of excess fatalities in Scotland.

    Liked by 3 people

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