Road traffic collisions and safety (health and wellbeing needs in South Tyneside)


135,000 people were seriously injured on European roads in 2014, according to figures published by the European Commission for the first time in April 2016. While the number of deaths on European roads has fallen dramatically over the last decade, serious injuries have declined at a much slower rate. Official targets to reduce road deaths have been in place since 2001, but there is no equivalent for serious injuries.

European Transport Safety Council: Report supports calls for an EU target to reduce serious road injuries

This research examined real world collision data and investigation outcomes from across Europe in an attempt to boost understanding of the most common collision situations that result in serious injuries. The data reveal many of the key risk factors and victim profiles which could help member states identify the best measures to reduce such collisions.

Antonio Avenoso, Executive Director of the European Transport Safety Council said:

"Serious injuries on our roads continue to have a devastating impact on millions of victims and their families. We know that EU targets, combined with the right measures have had a dramatic effect on reducing deaths. It's essential that we now apply the same thinking to serious injuries. We have the data, and this new report highlights the situations and groups that would most benefit, so it's time for the Commission to finally give the green light."

The Commission was expected to set a target to reduce serious road injuries in the first half of last year, having been promised 'shortly' in a Commission press release of 24 March 2015.

The public health strategy "Healthy Lives, Healthy People" (2010) highlighted the need to reduce road injuries in children and address the 'strong social and regional variations'. Reports relating to the earlier cross-government "Staying Safe" strategy such as the "Staying Safe: Action Plan" (2008) and "Accident Prevention Amongst Children and Young People - A Priority Review" (2009) address child road safety issues in more detail.

The 1988 Road Traffic Act, Section 39, puts a "statutory duty" on the local authority to undertake studies into road traffic collisions, and to take steps both to reduce and prevent them.

On a broader transport scale, over the last 60 years road traffic density in the UK has steadily increased and congestion in many urban areas is a significant problem. While the expansion in car use has brought many social and economic benefits, increased vehicle numbers and traffic volume has also had negative impacts on health:

  • greater risk of road traffic crashes, with pedestrians and cyclists being particularly vulnerable 
  • long-term exposure to air pollutants decreases life expectancy
  • areas of high deprivation suffer most from air-pollution-related morbidity and mortality and the effects of noise pollution
  • increased community severance as a result of poor urban planning.