RoadPeace welcomes guest contributions to our blog from our members and supporters. Here we hear from Dr Adam Snow, Senior Lecturer in Law at Liverpool John Moores University, with a thought piece on Project Edward. Many thanks to Adam for writing this piece.
“Last week was Project EDWARD week (17th – 21st October) (EDWARD stands for Every Day Without A Road Death). The week is a means of showcasing the importance of road safety and new and innovative, as well as traditional, policing as a means of reducing deaths on the road. Project Edward usually runs in September in the UK, however due to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II it was postponed this year.
It is a sad reflection of the continued danger on the roads that days without a road death are to be celebrated as an exception to the norm. Last year deaths on GB roads averaged 4.3 per day, which was an increase on the previous year’s average of 4 per day. Although 2020 was a year in which road traffic drastically reduced on GB roads due national lockdowns in response to the COVID19 crisis.
There was a statistically significant reduction of road deaths during the period of national lockdowns with a 17% reduction in fatalities and a 41% reduction in fatalities when compared to the 3 year average for the period 2017-19. The average number of deaths per year in 2019 was 4.8 deaths, thus the 2021 figure is a reasonable reduction on the longer-term average of deaths per day on our roads.
Whilst the averages indicate the extent of the problem and sheer determination needed to address the attritional scale of it, project EDWARD offers a week of hope to try to control or influence road safe behaviour.
The day on which a road traffic collision causes death and the day of the death resulting from that collision will frequently be different. In what follows, the statistics on road traffic collisions (vehicles) are used since these represent the days in which fatalities were caused (rather than the days in which the fatalities occurred.). Unfortunately, data is not available on the date and time of casualty fatalities. In what follows therefore the figures are an underestimation of actual death since any one road collision can cause multiple fatalities. In 2021 there were 1558 fatalities caused by 1474 road traffic collisions, an average of 1.05 deaths per collision (a figure that is relatively static across the previous 5 years).
Focusing solely on the average death rate however misses the fluctuations that do occur over the years in road fatalities. Table 1 below sets out the number of days on GB roads without a road traffic collision (RTC) causing death.
|Year||Days without RTC causing a Road Death|
Table 1 Number of days without a fatal road traffic collision per year
The 8th of February has twice been a day without road traffic collision causing a road death (8th Feb 2021 and 8th Feb 2018) otherwise there have been no repeated days in the last 5 years. The longest period between days without a fatal RTC was from 15th June 2018 until 21st May 2019. There were 340 consecutive days of fatal RTCs, totalling 1639 fatal collisions (an average of nearly 5 fatal RTCs per day). The second longest period was 143 days from 16th July 2021 to 7th December 2021 resulting in 709 fatal collisions (5 fatal collisions per day) and the third longest period was between 18th June 2019 and 6th November 2019 with 140 days with 672 fatal collisions (4.8 fatal collisions per day). It should be remembered that these represent the number of collisions; the actual number of deaths will be higher.
There have been no consecutive days without a fatal RTC over the previous 5 years, although in 2021 there was one period where only 1 day split the zero fatal RTC days – 23rd May 2021 and 25th May 2021, on the 22nd there were 2 fatal collisions. This is a shocking statistic, although in the context of the amount death on the road it is, sadly, not surprising.
As regards the distribution of zero RTC fatalities across the days of the week they are as follows.
|Days of the week||RTC Fatal Incidents 2017-21||Number of zero RTC Fatal Incident days 2017-2021|
Saturday and Sunday are the days least likely to have zero road death day and the most likely to have a road death. Average traffic volume on Saturdays and Sundays are below the average across the week thus more fatal collisions seem to be occurring on the days in which there is less traffic. Potential reasons for this include reduced volume of traffic allows for greater speed (A factor seen during the covid19 pandemic where excessive speed was an issue in the first lock down).
Further potential factors include increased recreational pedestrian footfall, increased obstructions on the road from parked vehicles, potential reduced road policing enforcement at the weekend and the type of driver driving at a weekend (a social / fun young driver rather than a commuter / professional). A final factor may be related to medical treatment post-crash and the so called “weekend effect” in hospital treatment, although the evidence for that effect is contested. Further analysis is needed to see if the serious and slight injury statistics are the reverse of the fatality statistics for days of the week. That would indicate that the “weekend effect” may have some truth as regards RTCs.”
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Updated on: 27 October 2022