Stop traffic sign

UK driving figures that will make you take stock this Road Safety Week

Carparison are proud to support Brake, the road safety charity and to back their annual Road Safety Week. Inspired by them and their life-saving work, we make it our mission to promote the importance of road safety wherever we can. Reflecting too on how this must evolve as our driving behaviour, technologies and structures do. 

It is the responsibility of everyone taking to the road to do all they can to protect themselves, their passengers and other road users. When you consider Brake’s shocking statistic that five people are killed on UK roads everyday with an additional 60+ seriously injured, there is undoubtedly more to be done.

We will now look at five of the most poignant statistics regarding road safety in 2020 and dissect what we can take from them to make positive changes to our driving behaviour for the benefit of all road users. Not just on Road Safety Week, but all year round.


Road safety and speeding


1)     Exceeding the speed limit or driving too fast for the conditions was reported as a main factor in 12% of all accidents. However, speed is a contributor to every single collision.

Speeding, or rather not doing so, is a significant part of our lessons when learning to drive and ultimately our driving test. But it is a factor too often ignored when we are set free onto the roads without a teacher or examiner. No matter of the potential power of our vehicle or the age of the person behind the wheel, it is something we are all capable of. And it is for this reason that collisions as a result of misjudging road speed are so high.

Whether purposefully ignoring speed limits or failing to adjust our top speed in difficult conditions, our speed is directly linked to the risk of collision and, significantly, the risk of worsened injury.

‘No Need to Speed’ is the chosen focus of this year’s Road Safety Week. For more support on this topic you can head to Brake’s official guidance.


Road safety for vulnerable road users

Vulnerable road users

1)     52% of road traffic fatalities are pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists.

Although cars represent 80% of traffic volumes, fatalities as a result of road collisions amongst car drivers are disproportionate to other, less common road users.

This may not seem surprising when you consider the vulnerability of some road users compared to drivers protected by vehicles that are designed to be increasingly safe. However, rates that consider casualties per miles travelled per vehicle type highlight the disparity amongst our different travelling methods. 

Motorcycles consistently suffer the top spot. Although thankfully at their lowest levels since 2003, accidents involving motorcyclists are still the most common of all transportation on our roads.

This highlights the need to consider our ability to anticipate and facilitate the use of our roads by more vulnerable users and to adapt our driving accordingly.


Road Safety and drink drivers

Drink driving

3)     5% of drivers admitted driving despite thinking they were over the legal alcohol limit at least once in the last 12 months.

Although a figure that is surprisingly high, this is actually the lowest figure on record.

Nevertheless, it is an obvious plee and one we are all aware of: do not drink and drive. The legal limit is there for a reason. Namely that our ability to safely control a vehicle is significantly affected by alcohol and other recreational substances. There is no fool-proof way of knowing how much alcohol is safe to drink as it varies from person to person for reasons including weight, age, gender and metabolism as well as your food intake and stress levels.

According to Drink Aware, “Even small amounts of alcohol can affect your ability to drive so the only safe advice is to avoid any alcohol if you are driving.”


Road safety and drowsiness

Drowsiness on the road

1)     20% of collisions on major UK roads are sleep-related – these incidents are also more likely to result in serious injury or fatality.

This statistic speaks for itself when raising the necessity for us to reconsider our need to drive when we haven’t achieved sufficient sleep beforehand. Sleep deprivation affects our reaction times and our ability to make sound judgements. As well as the very real and serous risk of actually falling asleep at the wheel.

Guidance around tiredness when driving therefore suggests:

-        Do not drive if you are tired and rest if you become tired mid-journey

-        Avoid undertaking journeys between midnight and 6am as our innate alertness is at its minimum

-        Plan long journeys with sufficient breaks

-        Only stop in safe and appropriate places – not on the motorway hard shoulder

-        A nap and caffeinated drinks are only a short-term solution, proper sleep is the only effective solution


Road safety and stationary vehicles

Crash with stationary vehicle

5) 1% of traffic collisions in the UK between 2015 and 2017 involved a stationary vehicle. A seemingly small percentage but which, in fact, reflects over 9,000 incidents.

42% of these collisions were on a motorway or main road where the main cause of a stationary vehicle is breakdown. While a breakdown is something all of us do our best to avoid, here are a few simple tips we can do ourselves to ensure we minimise the risk. Doing so will not only reduce hassle and repair bills, it could also significantly reduce the number of completely avoidable road collisions.

Check your oil regularly

The RAC reported that 1/3 of their patrols detect dangerously low oil levels in broken down vehicle call outs. Not only can insufficient oil levels cause breakdown but also sever engine damage. Therefore, check your oil level is between the maximum and minimum marks on your dipstick regularly and top up if necessary.

Check your tyres and wipers regularly

Keeping on top of your tyre pressure, tread depth and overall tyre health will be a significant move to keeping your vehicle looked after. Replace damaged tyres and those with a tread below the legal limit of 1.6mm (recommended 3mm in winter for added grip).

Although not likely to directly cause a breakdown, insufficient wipers could halt your journey if visibility becomes too hampered. Check the rubber of your wipers can clear liquid sufficiently to maintain visibility with plenty of washer fluid to keep your screen clean and clear. Protect your wipes in winter either by using a protective window sheet or by loosening with warm water or de-icer before starting your engine.

Keep your car clear of clutter

Removing rubbish, making sure you travel with only the essentials and ensuring any luggage is safely stowed will not only improve your driving experience but will ensure discarded items do not roll precariously underneath your pedals or prevent you accessing your controls in an emergency.

A regular clean to the exterior should also be completed. Focusing on keeping windows, windscreen, headlights, brake lights and number plates. This will ensure you can see and be seen.

Never start a journey with less than a quarter tank of fuel

Keeping your fuel tank at least a quarter full at all times will prevent you running out of fuel unexpectedly. Apparently, nearly 830,000 of us run out of fuel while on the road each year. As well as the big risk of costly repairs, breaking down because of a lack of fuel could also leave you liable for a fine. Plus, it puts you and other road users at unnecessary risk.


Of course, there are many other elements to road safety and many more commitments to take in order to maximise your contribution. However, we hope this is a helpful start.

Find out more about Brake and their amazing work.