9% rise in number of older people killed on roads

Ted Hennessey, PA
·3-min read

The number of older people killed on Britain’s roads has increased by 9% in a year, figures show.

Department for Transport (DfT) data revealed reported road deaths fell from 1,784 in 2018 to 1,752 in 2019, while overall road casualties fell 5% in 12 months to 153,158 – the lowest level on record.

But the number of deaths of people aged 60 and over in reported road accidents increased from 588 to 638.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said it was “alarmed” by the increase.

Road accident fatalities in Great Britain aged 60 and over
(PA Graphics)

Michelle Harrington, road safety manager at RoSPA, said: “We know that 196 of the over-60s killed on Britain’s roads last year were behind the wheel at the time of the collision.”

She urged older people who are noticing changes in their driving ability to “seek support”.

RAC road safety spokesman Simon Williams said: “The rise in older drivers and passengers who are victims of fatal road collisions is a worrying upward trend.

“The critical question that needs answering is whether the rise can be explained by the simple fact we have a driving population that is getting older, or whether there are other factors at play.

“Certainly today’s statistics warrant much closer investigation, and perhaps they could inform a future investigation by a cross-party group of MPs.”

The new data showed the number of fatalities of people aged 17 to 24 decreased from 279 to 248 over 12 months, while young casualties overall dropped 6% from 2018 to 26,988.

It also revealed a fall of 5% in child casualties to 13,574, which is the lowest on record.

The were 105 deaths on motorways in 2019, a 2% drop from the previous year, despite the number rising between 2017 and 2018.

The number of car occupant casualties was also the lowest on record at 89,331, representing 58% of casualties in reported road accidents in 2019.

However, RoSPA said it was “deeply concerned” about a “lack of progress” towards reducing the number of road accidents and deaths since 2010.

Ms Harrington added: “We cannot afford for the 2020s to be another lost decade.

“We hope that the recent UK Government road policing consultation will provide an opportunity for a refocus on making our roads safer for all.”

Road safety charity Brake has called on the Government to introduce a 20mph default speed limit in towns and cities and zero-tolerance limits for drink-driving.

Its spokesman said: “The decade-long stagnation in reducing road deaths on the roads is unacceptable.

“On average, five people are killed on our roads every day, every one a tragedy, and every one could have been prevented if the Government had the courage to make the big decisions and bring about change on our roads.”

Transport Minister Baroness Vere said: “Our latest stats show road casualties are the lowest they’ve been for 40 years, since current records began, and that the number of deaths has also reduced.

“While this news is encouraging and while we have some of the safest roads in the world, this Government will continue to work tirelessly to ensure our roads are made even safer still.

“That includes through work such as our Think! campaign, which continues to tackle behaviours that can lead to road casualties, and through our refreshed road safety statement and two-year action plan, which will help promote a lifetime of safe driving.”