Road deaths and serious injuries caused by driver speed rose significantly last year, according to analysis of government road casualty data by Brake, the road safety charity, for Road Safety Week 2023.
The latest road casualty statistics show that, in 2022, 1,766 people died on UK roads (1,711 in Britain, 55 in Northern Ireland), a 10% increase on figures from the previous year (see Table 1). Brake’s analysis also found that in the same period, road deaths caused by drivers exceeding the speed limit rose by 20% (see Table 2) .
Brake also carried out a public opinion survey, asking more than 2,000 drivers about their driving habits and attitudes to speed and speed limits . The survey found that 92% of drivers think that speed limits are essential for the safety of our roads. Despite this, more than a third (34%) of those surveyed said they sometimes or often drive faster than the speed limit, and 40% think that driving just a little bit over the speed limit doesn’t matter. Two-fifths (39%) of drivers surveyed also agreed that the default speed limit on roads in built-up areas should be lowered from 30mph to 20mph, supporting changes that are taking place across the UK to make communities safer through the introduction of lower speed limits [5,6,7].
Brake is releasing the survey results at the start of its biggest annual road safety campaign, Road Safety Week, which runs from 19 to 25 November. The charity is calling on everyone to join a national conversation about speed, to raise awareness of the dangers of excessive and inappropriate speed, and challenge why so many people still think it is acceptable to drive faster than the speed limit.
Road Safety Week began on Sunday 19 November to coincide with the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, for which people across the world lit candles in memory of those killed or seriously injured on roads. Brake worked with local councils across the UK to get public buildings and other landmarks lit up in yellow, to show support for road victims.
This year, more than 3,400 schools, communities, organisations and emergency services, together representing more than 17 million people, have signed up to take part in Road Safety Week by organising local activities, sharing important road safety messages and posing the question: If five people die on UK roads every day, why do we still think it is ok to speed? Brake has provided free resources to everyone taking part in Road Safety Week, including campaigns toolkits, lesson plans and assemblies for school, as well as factsheets, films, posters and more for businesses, local communities and campaign groups.
Here are some examples of events that are taking place around the UK.
- In South Yorkshire, Mayor Oliver Coppard and Active Travel Commissioner Ed Clancy will attend the Lifewise Centre in Rotherham to run road safety lessons with local schoolchildren. They will also be riding bicycles that will light up with road safety messages.
- In London, the BT Tower will display a message supporting the central theme of Road Safety Week, Let’s talk about speed!
- Blackburn and Darwen Borough Council will hold a road safety parade bringing together local high schools and primary schools to share important road safety messages. The parade will follow a pedestrianised route through the town centre, ending at Blackburn Town Hall where the Mayor of Blackburn will deliver a short speech.
The speed we choose to drive at can mean the difference between life and death. Our speed dictates whether we can stop in time to avoid a crash, and the force of impact if we can’t stop. This Road Safety Week, I urge you to join the conversation and talk about speed.
Ross Moorlock, interim CEO at Brake, said: “Road death is sudden. It’s traumatic. It sends shockwaves across families, schools, workplaces and communities. This year, we have already supported more than 1500 people affected by road crashes through our National Road Victim Service.
“Today, five people will be killed on our roads. And tomorrow, another five won’t make it home to their families. And so on, and so on, until we all say ‘Enough!’ and start taking responsibility for each other’s safety on the road.
“The speed we choose to drive at can mean the difference between life and death. Our speed dictates whether we can stop in time to avoid a crash, and the force of impact if we can’t stop. This Road Safety Week, whoever you are, and however you travel, I urge you to join the conversation and talk about speed. Please talk to as many people as you can to find out why, when five people die on our roads every day, so many of us still choose to drive too fast.”