When targeting the causes of road accidents it is important to be driven by the facts or data. The key source of road accident data which underpins our work in Norfolk is the police STATS19 data. Other sources include the NHS hospital admissions data and Norfolk Ambulance Service records.
A national system of collecting road accident data was first introduced in 1949, called the STATS19 after the code number on the original collection form. It has been developed and updated since then through a process of 5 year reviews.
It is collected by all police forces across Great Britain in a nationally consistent way.
It only records accidents where people are injured (personal injury accidents) rather than damage-only collisions.
The accidents are classified as fatal, serious or slight depending on the severity of the most serious casualty involved.
It contains over 50 fields detailing the circumstances of the accident.
For more information on the STATS19 system please click here.
Road Casualties in Norfolk
Over 2,000 collisions involving personal injury are recorded every year on Norfolk’s roads resulting in almost 3,000 casualties. We are aware that not all injury accidents are reported to the police and that there are many more non injury collisions that are not recorded. These figures are therefore the tip of the iceberg:-
(Above figures are approximate and estimated annual numbers for Norfolk)
Both the Government’s strategy and our work in Norfolk concentrate on reducing fatalities and serious casualties (often termed KSI – killed and serious injuries). These are life ending/life changing events which have the greatest cost to society in terms of suffering and financial cost.
Cost of Road Accidents
The Department of Transport (DfT) produces annual figures for the average value of road accident prevention relating to their severity. Currently they are
This is not to say that other accidents should be ignored. Slight casualties also cause pain, stress and costs but are by their definition fully recoverable. Damage-only collisions and near-misses can also cause considerable concern and community severance which has social impacts, reducing activity, mobility and social cohesion. Nevertheless there is a clear moral and financial case for prioritising more serious incidents.
Accident waiting to happen?
We probably all know of a location which we would say is an “accident waiting to happen”. Since the large majority of road accidents are caused primarily by human error, sadly accidents can occur almost anywhere. In order to target our work effectively we must therefore look to where road accidents are already occurring.
Of course it is impossible to prevent accidents that have already happened; however the past performance of a location or group of road users gives us a strong indication of likelihood of future accidents. For instance at a site where serious accidents are regularly recorded, this is likely to continue unless preventative work is done. By identifying and targeting such sites or user groups we can have maximum effect in reducing the occurrence of future accidents.
Where do road accidents in Norfolk happen?
(KSI = killed and serious injured, Urban = Conurbation, population of over 10,000)
We all know how rural a county Norfolk is. The strong rural bias in accidents is due not only to this but also to fact that accident severity is higher on faster roads (ie outside of built-up areas). Slight casualties are much more evenly split between rural and urban areas.
We continually monitor accident records in Norfolk to identify problem sites, under-performing groups, routes with high accident rate, rising trends etc. In this way we seek to be as responsive as possible while retaining a clear focus on real rather than perceived problems.
Monitoring, Targets and Performance
We also monitor our year-on-year progress in reducing casualties in key target groups to ensure steady progress and to compare against regional and national performance.
In 2000 the DfT set national 10 year targets to reduce road accident casualties. These 3 headline targets are:-
40% reduction in all killed and seriously injured casualties
50% reduction in child killed and seriously injured casualties
10% reduction in slight casualty rate
In Norfolk, we monitor our year-on-year progress in meeting these targets. In addition we also monitor our progress in reducing casualties a wide range of other key target groups.