The head of the AA has called for a “concerted and targeted” education campaign to get drivers in Britain to wear their seatbelts, after the latest road casualty statistics for 2022 showed 21 per cent of fatalities on our roads were down to people not buckling in.
Edmund King, the director of the AA Charitable Trust, said that while every death on our roads was a tragedy, it was particularly worrying to see that not wearing a seatbelt still accounted for around a fifth of fatalities last year — and that the figure had remained around that mark for the past ten years.
Nine per cent increase in deaths
The Department for Transport (DfT) and Office for National Statistics (ONS) worked together to compile the annual report into road casualties across Britain in 2022. The overall figures showed that fatalities were up from 1,588 in 2021 to 1,711 in 2022, representing a nine per cent rise year-on-year.
But the ONS report emphasises that both 2020 and 2021’s data were heavily affected by the Covid crisis, so a fairer comparison would be to 2019’s figures — the most recent ‘equivalent pre-pandemic year’. Viewed through that lens, road fatalities in 2022 actually declined by two per cent compared with 2019, and so did the total of killed or seriously injured — known as ‘KSI’ casualties — by three per cent, to 29,742.
Casualties of all severity fell 12 per cent compared with 2019, to 135,480 overall, but the road fatalities per billion vehicle miles travelled rose to to five in 2022, a two per cent increase on figures from four years ago.
Nevertheless, King said: “Every death on our roads is a tragedy and it is worrying that after the pandemic, road deaths are rising.
“It is a preventable tragedy that a fifth of people who die in cars on our roads are not wearing a seatbelt. Seatbelts are arguably the greatest ever road-safety invention, but they are entirely useless if they are not worn.
“Although on the face of it this year’s results represent cause for some celebration, having dropped from 30 per cent in the previous year, the figure for fatalities not wearing a seatbelt has remained stubbornly around a fifth for numerous years.
“There needs to be concerted and targeted education to reach those drivers who choose to risk their lives for the sake of a two-second action.”
Drug-driving KSIs reach worrying record
Drilling down further into the numbers of the ONS, the AA chief was also keen to highlight that the number of people killed or seriously injured due to a driver being under the influence of drugs reached a worrying record high in 2022, with 1,023 recorded instances.
“We need an increase in police drug-drive testing at the roadside so that those tempted to do so will think again,” he said.
King concluded that while the authorities should indeed be doing everything they could to reduce road deaths and serious injuries in Britain, it was incumbent on road users to look at their own behaviour in order to increase overall safety levels.
“It’s on all of us to eliminate deaths and casualties on our roads. As well as having more cops in cars to catch people in the act, road users need to take responsibility when heading out on the roads.”
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