Crunching numbers

On 13 August 2015, two things happened. The Detail TV released their report on the Road Traffic Collision (RTC) numbers. It is well worthwhile, especially for the map showing where each collision occurred. Rural roads and towns fare badly.


From DetailData

As if to illustrate that point at 11am, in Ballynahinch, during the town’s market, a pedestrian was knocked down and killed by a six-wheel tipper truck. The driver, perhaps unaware of the collision, drove on but was later arrested.

Incensed at this needless death I took to Twitter. Even with a cursory glance I could see Goods Vehicles are overrepresented in the stats on fatal and serious collisions. Time for the industry to get its house in order, I tweeted.

In other industries serious failings are addressed with tight investigation protocols. As incidents are investigated information is fed back in order the same does not occur again.

If a component of a Boeing 777 fails the entire fleet is grounded, inspected and where faults are found remedial action carried out.

Compare how swiftly the Civil Aviation Authority took action after the Shoreham Air Show disaster, amending rules immediately, long before the outcome of the investigation by the Air Accident Investigation Branch is known.

In response to train crashes safety protocols are put in place meaning that similar incidents do not reoccur and the railways’ good safety record is maintained.

There is nothing in place to learn from collisions with Goods Vehicles on our roads. Each collision is taken as a unique incident, but there are rather a lot of these unique incidents. As a whole they point to a systemic failure to safeguard vulnerable road users against Goods Vehicles. Mark Treasure writes about this much better than I can.

The Detail’s report does not focus on what vehicles were involved in each RTC, but the data set includes vehicle type and casualties. The data set is restricted to all serious and fatal collisions.

It appears NI data back up findings in London.

A quick cross-referencing of the tables revealed the following data for 2014:

There were 20 serious and fatal collisions on footways. One bus, one private hire vehicle and 18 cars were involved. 5 of the collisions had a fatal outcome.


The Cyclist Menace

Local radio is very fixated on the danger that cyclists pose to pedestrians on footways. It is, however, very unlikely a pedestrian will end up in hospital with a serious injury as a result of colliding with a cyclist.

Only 3 pedestrian – cyclist road traffic collisions were deemed serious by PSNI. Two of these collisions occurred at a pedestrian crossing. No one died. There were 651 serious and fatal RTC in 2014.


Serious & Fatal RTC 2014

Goods Vehicles

As for goods vehicles. There were 158 pedestrian KSI (Killed Seriously Injured) as a result of 155 serious and fatal RTC. Goods vehicles were involved in 3 RTC, but two of these resulted in a fatality.


Goods vehicles make up 2.5% of registered vehicles in NI. The percentage of RTC and the share of all vehicles match quite well. But when the two do meet, the outcome is more than likely fatal for the pedestrian.

Pedestrians are on footways, but cyclists must use the road, where Goods Vehicles are.


Cyclists share the road with goods vehicles and buses

The figures:

62 serious or fatal RTC resulting in 62 cyclist KSI. Goods vehicles were involved in 7 of these. Of these 7 collisions 2 were fatal.

Or to put it more bluntly: goods vehicles make up 2.5% of traffic, but are involved in 11% of serious and fatal RTC with a cyclist. And as with pedestrians the outcome is not good.

The total number of cyclist fatalities in Northern Ireland in 2014 was three. And two of these cyclists were killed by Goods Vehicles.

These are very small numbers, but they mirror findings across the Irish Sea. Goods Vehicles are disproportionately involved in serious collisions with cyclists.

There are many good and conscientious hauliers, but time and again roadside spot checks reveal that many HGV are operated with serious faults or driven by unfit drivers that could put lives at risk.

It is time for government to act reduce the terrible price communities are forced to pay.

One thought on “Crunching numbers

  1. It was in 2000 that Lord Cullen changed the rail industry prior to this we pity a couple of bus loads of passengers & staff into coffins every year. With the delivery of an independent investigation body (RAIB) and their reports fed to an independent and powerful regulator of operations and infrastructure (ORR) and seals/monotored by a confidential safety reporting system (CIRAS). The last passenger to die in a train crash was in 2007, and staff deaths have gone from an ‘accepted’ 1 per month to 1 per year being a matter of concern.

    Remember too the words of Lady Bracknell when someone says ‘accident blackspot’ “Once is unfortunate twice seems culpably careless….”

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