Road Safety News

Report highlights KSI reductions that could ensue by eradicating 'fatal four'

Thursday 5th March 2015

Road deaths and serious injuries could fall by more than 20% if drivers “drove more safely”, according to a new report produced by TRL, the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory.

The report, commissioned by the Joint Thames Valley and Hampshire Roads Policing Unit, found that annually more than 460 fewer road users would be killed or seriously injured (KSI) each year if the ‘fatal four’ - speeding, non-wearing of seat belts, drink and drug-driving and mobile phone use while driving – were eradicated.

In 2013 there were 112 deaths and 1,848 serious injuries on the roads of Thames Valley and Hampshire.

In the report TRL estimates, based on the data and evidence, that in one year across the Thames Valley and Hampshire, there would be 66 fewer KSIs if every car occupant wore a seatbelt or appropriate restraint, 160 fewer KSIs if drink driving was eradicated, and 242 fewer KSIs if mobile phone use was eradicated while driving.

The Joint Thames Valley and Hampshire Roads Policing Unit asked TRL to produce the report to “ensure its approach to enforcement is evidence-based, so that resources can be prioritised appropriately”.

To support this aim, the Unit asked TRL to conduct an independent review to ascertain whether its current approach is efficient and effective at reducing the number of road casualties and how it might be improved further.

The focus of the review was on speeding, non-wearing of seat belts, drink and drug-driving and mobile phone use while driving which are “known to contribute to the likelihood and severity of a significant number of collisions”.

Researchers at TRL collated and analysed information on traffic offences and collisions across the Thames Valley and Hampshire. The findings were then related to evidence from previous research on the impact of different methods of police enforcement on offences and collisions.

The result is a series of recommendations for the Joint Roads Policing Unit to consider and use to adapt their strategies in an evidence-based way, including:

• The randomisation of locations and times of general roads enforcement to increase road users’ perceived risk of detection, and consequently decrease offending behaviours

• Mobile phone enforcement focussed towards weekdays during working hours

• Campaigns to reduce mobile phone use should be aimed at employers and work-related road safety and should highlight the dangers of both hand-held and hands-free phones, since the general collision risk is similar (although hands-free phones are legal)

• More priority given to evening and weekend enforcement of drink-driving.

• Fixed speed cameras are a deterrent for general offenders and further fixed camera locations should be considered where a particular speeding issue exists.

• As digital fixed speed cameras are introduced in the region, a smart approach could be taken in terms of operating these at the times of highest risk.

Chief inspector Henry Parsons, Thames Valley and Hampshire Police, said: “We recognised that this research has been needed for quite some time.

“With a reduction in resources due to budget constraints, we realised that the impact that we can have on reducing traffic offences and consequently collisions can only be sustained if we become more efficient at protecting the public.

“The figures are cold hard evidence of the number of lives and serious injuries that can be avoided through improving driving behaviours.

“The findings and recommendations that have resulted from this work are already impacting on our strategies, allowing us to focus on the most effective methods of policing.”

Dr Louise Lloyd, TRL’s principal statistician, said: “Our collaboration with Thames Valley and Hampshire Police has demonstrated that the number of people who are injured or killed in road accidents could reduce substantially if road users recognised the risks involved in dangerous behaviours such as using a mobile phone while driving, drink-driving, exceeding the speed limit and not wearing a seatbelt.

“Sadly, many accidents caused by those who are committing traffic offences also have a significant impact on the lives of individuals and families of other road users.”

Click here to download the full report, and here to download the summary report.





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Comments noted. I studied with Hendon (Advanced Wing) police driving instructors in the 1970s and, I have been told, was the only member of the public to drive with any frequency on their skid pan. Also studied with Devizes instructors. Did the High Performance Course in 1974. Have been Training Officer for two IAM Groups and later two RoSAP (cum RoADAR) groups. Was also SW Groups Rep for RoSPA for a number of years. Liased extensively with Keith Bamford. Created an advance driving mmanual and regularly did workshops at which ADIs were often present etc. Hope that helps..
Nigel ALBRIGHT, Taunton.

Agree (1) | Disagree (1)

Your impression is totally wrong.

I disagree entirely.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Researcher, St Albans

Agree (2) | Disagree (7)

Following Nick's observation, I do get the impression that your 'research' is nothing more than reading other campaigners' and pressure gropus' websites, seemingly accepting what they say as gospel and then quoting it here. But having "..analysed road safety using the system safety skills etc etc..." and your other credentials, you must by now have some ideas and solutions of your own that I'm sure the authorities - and us - would like to hear about, but preferably something positive, not negative.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (3) | Disagree (2)

I do think it would be more accurate to describe yourself as an 'independent campaigner' rather than researcher.
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News

Agree (6) | Disagree (2)

I use the tag "Independent Road Safety Researcher" to separate myself from the many campaigning groups or vested commercial interests. I am not a member of any group connected with driving or road safety and am entirely self-funded. I have driven since 1972 and am a former Chair of the London & Herts RoSPA Advanced Driver (putting Roadcraft into practice and passing their advanced test on all three occasions). I currently drive about 20,000 miles a year.

I have analysed road safety using the system safety skills and techniques that I have applied to aviation, weapons, navigation systems, etc since 1990, coupled with my 40+ years of driving.

I note that you have not commented on the Dorset link included in my previous post. What's your background/experience and currency?
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Researcher, St Albans

Agree (1) | Disagree (3)

Referring to the police, I should have said "..with their own trained, experienced eyes.." i.e they know what to look for and how to recognize poor driver behaviour - speeding being connected with 'poor judgment, too close and distraction' anyway - they're not necessarily mutually exclusive.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (1) | Disagree (7)

I have long been worried about academics, 'experts', and the like and their over analylical input about RS, essentially from 'behind the desk', as I see it. And I have also long maintained that perhaps the best people to advise on safety behaviour on the roads, aka Road Safety, are (or certainly were) the police driving instructors. That's because they certainly have a better understanding than almost anyone else what it takes to be safe on the roads, given that advanced courses go up to 160mph. So it also increasingly amazes me that people with this level of knowledge and expertise have so little input on RS and its policies. As one such instructor once said to me, 'The art is knowing when to go slowly; not knowing when to go fast.' So I am afraid tha people with titles such as Independant Road Safety Researcher and the like worry me considerably. I would love to get them in the car and see exactly how safe they actually are on the road. That would be the real test of their knowledge and understanding to my mind.
Nigel ALBRIGHT, Taunton.

Agree (7) | Disagree (9)

Roads police are part of the "speed industry", as they benefit from Speed Awareness courses (see

But crucially, what do the roads police "see"? Speed travelled is one measure of driving quality, but targeting "speed" can miss the other (root cause) indicators of poor driving (poor judgement, too close, distraction, etc).

Driving above the speed limit is no more automatically dangerous than driving below the speed limit is automatically safe. And the fact that it is possible for anyone to drive safely (though not always necessarily legally) indefinitely with a non-functioning speedometer, further severs the link between "speeding" and the other three of the so-called "Fatal Four".
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Researcher, St Albans

Agree (8) | Disagree (5)

Get rid of all speed limits and the main cause of accidents (according to these experts), "speeding", would be nil and hence no more "speeding" accidents, problem solved?

Of course 'driving too fast for conditions' would still kill/injure people, but at least we then could get on with the real meaning of road safety, instead of this polarised obsession with speed limits. For example, I am sure many that contribute to these pages drive to the 30mph limit, so what happens when a few local councillors get together and downgrade the speed limit to 20mph? Would readers admit to driving dangerously for decades and if they continue driving at these speeds, their driving should now be deemed so dangerous, it now warrants a hefty fine and a Speed Awareness Course?

If speed is the only issue, then 70mph is just as safe on a motorway as down the high street. Now we all know better than that! Such simplistic trite should not keep being repeated and those that drive safely should not be punished 'blanket-fashion' with those that do not and that is all a speed camera can do.
Terry Hudson, Kent

Agree (8) | Disagree (5)

I would imagine that the reason that action on speeding is included is based more on what the respective roads policing units see everyday with their own eyes, rather than what dubious data may suggest.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (4) | Disagree (6)

The estimate for KSI reduction given total compliance with speed limits is shown as "-" (i.e. "don't know")not "0", due to the data being from a very small number of sites. Given that TV + Hants have several hundred sites for which all the data is available, and that this is supposed to be an "evidence based" report, why was it not used? And given insufficient data to provide meaningful results, why un-quantified assertions of their effectiveness?

Rod - it has been engineering not enforcement that cut the risk of death and injury per km by a factor of about 20 since WW2, not enforcement, and will continue to do so.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (9) | Disagree (3)

For those of us that take the 'new view' on accident causation, what is now generally referred to as Safety II, this report reveals why the old thinking can no longer serve the needs of a 21st Century road transport system.

Now we know that accidents usually happen to people doing normal things in unusual situations and not the old view that it's due to people doing unusual things in normal situations we begin to see that it is situations and 'emergent phenomena' that need the greatest amount of study.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (4) | Disagree (5)

Including "exceeding a speed limit" in the so-called Fatal Four is a much repeated myth propagated by the speed industry. If it were true, then we could improve road safety by increasing speed limits or even removing speed limits all together (because, at a stroke, that would reduce the number of drivers exceeding a limit). The "laws of physics" and all of the other influences that contribute to collisions have no idea what number is on a nearby pole - the speed limit actually has negligible effect on collision likelihood. The data does not support inclusion of "speeding" as one of a "Fatal Four", nor does any argument. Road safety would feel unshackled and would be able to function far better if it stopped perpetuating self-evident myths.
Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Researcher, St Albans

Agree (12) | Disagree (6)

Road deaths and serious injuries could fall by more than 20% if drivers “drove more safely”, according to a new report produced by TRL, the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory. Wow. This reminds me of a study in the late 70s which came to the conclusion that children have more road accidents in the evenings and during the school holidays than when they are in school. According to Chief Constable Henry Parsons this report has been needed for some time. My question would be how much did this cost especially as we read of the destruction, sorry reduction, of police forces across the country.

Maybe it is time to have a national police force, sorry, service and save money on a lot of chief constables and senior officers duplicated across the land. Local authorities are saving front line services by combining back office resources and I'm sure one force would work. For a start all those different badges, uniforms and vehicles being liveried up in differeing names when POLICE would do nicely. Rant over. The literation of fatal four works even though the report should, by its own data, exclude speeding so perhaps 'threatening three' was not powerful enough. Maybe speed data in this area does show compliance wheras elsewhere it nees to be still there as one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
Peter Westminster

Agree (11) | Disagree (1)

So,it is official, it in in the report, -non-compliance with speed limits does not increase KSIs. The summary table on the penultimate page of the report shows potential casualty savings as summarised in Road Safety News, i.e. 242 from Mobile Phone use, 66 from restraints, 160 from Drink Driving and zero from Speeding, So in that case why include Speeding as one of the 'Fatal Four' when its own figures show that it is not?
Robert Bolt, St Albans

Agree (11) | Disagree (4)

Derek Reynolds is spot on. It's an incredible revelation about drivers behaving more safely. Gosh, how amazing that this has been seriously below the radar for so long. And Hugh Jones's comment about space dovetails nicely. When will RS policy makers latch onto this fundamental aspect for which the legislation is already in place. That's the real one which would give a step-change in RS because properly implemented it would send a ripple out to all road user about taking ownership of their safety - or be prosecuted. It really is a simple as that.
Nigel ALBRIGHT, Taunton.

Agree (7) | Disagree (1)

Gosh! If people drove safer the roads would be safer - there's a revelation - hadn't thought of that one! But how to achieve this utopia? Educate, train, instruct? No - lets use technology and persecute. That'll do it.
Derek Reynolds, Salop.

Agree (15) | Disagree (0)

Why are Thames Valley Police giving tax-payers money to TRL when their own officers have already collected the relevant data? And how can TRL claim that preventing all mobile phone use in Thames Valley could eradicate more KSI (242) than occurred across the whole of Great Britain (around 90) involving mobile phone use? How could TRL have made such glaring errors?

Thames Valley Police say they want their strategies to be “evidence-based” so let’s all come together to support more fixed speed cameras deployed within scientific trials. That way we might start to have both “evidence-based” policies and agreement on that evidence.
Dave Finney, Slough

Agree (14) | Disagree (7)

As Hugh says, more covert enforcement will make a difference, especially as technology reduces the size of enforcement equipment.

Image capture, size and mobile technology will enable devices the size of a mobile phone to be approved and accurate detectors of unlicensed speeding behaviour. But the big breakthrough will come when they become commoditised by an increase in volume and reduction in price. As technology enables the tracking of looming, movement and speed then devices will also be self calibrating and require much less precision in placement and testing. In reality if volume can be increased then the current tens of thousands of pounds for an installation could drop to under a thousand.

And, of course the answer for those who don't feel able to control their speed in line with the limit will have the choice of fitting ISA.

We are not there yet, but certainly within the next few years technology advances will deem that the control of speed through management may be far more cost-effective than through engineering.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (5) | Disagree (14)

Although poor driver/rider behaviour is rife on our roads, each episode does not necessarily result in an accident due to chance, luck and defensive driving/riding by others, so trying to prevent accidents by targeting these offenders through enforcement is a bit of a lottery in that there are far more offenders than the authorities are able to detect and it is impossible to determine whether accidents were prevented as a result of random offenders being detected and prosecuted - that doesn't mean they shouldn't try though. More covert enforcement would detect more.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (11) | Disagree (7)

Simple comment. Many of these estimated deaths or serious injuries could be avoided if we concentrated on teaching that more Space is Safe. We would have a lot less carnage on the road if we just gave more space.
Bob Craven Lancs ... Space is Safe campaigner

Agree (15) | Disagree (1)