With each new car innovation with regards to technology comes improvements in road accident statistics. New technology brings about reductions in fatalities and serious injuries. However, history has shown us that as the number of accidents decreases, the number of cars on the roads increases and so there are still too many injuries occurring each year. A sad fact is that the majority of crashes occur as a result of some form of human error. How can we reduce this figure?
When an accident occurs, a lot of people blame another driver, the road conditions or their car but the reality is that most of the time, the driver themselves is at fault.
It’s very necessary right now for attitudes to change if we want to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities on the UK’s roads. People need to recognise their limitations and have to accept responsibility and enhance their skills.
The Word ‘Accident’
Many road users avoid using the word ‘accident’ to describe an event on the road. This word has certainly fallen out of fashion with it being a rather blameless word. In reality, car crashes aren’t accidents and 94% are due to human error, not an accident. Police often use the word ‘collision’ instead whereas the general public often just say ‘crash’.
Reasons for Driver Error
In 2011, British police officers attended 118,404 road traffic collisions (figures from the Department of Transport). In 42% of these crashes, the most frequently reported factor was that the driver ‘failed to look properly’. The second most commonly listed factor for 21% of the crashes was the driver ‘failing to judge the other person’s path or speed’. The third most common contributing factor was the driver being actually ‘careless, reckless or in a hurry’ and this accounted for 16% of the crashes. Other reasons were: loss of control, poor manoeuvre or turn, a pedestrian didn’t look properly, slippery road surfaces due to weather conditions, sudden braking, driving too fast for the road conditions or following another vehicle too closely. All of these ‘driver errors’ are ones that could be avoided.
Of all the crashes, roughly a third that occurred involved a person driving for work purposes.
In order to reduce the number of accidents caused by driver error, drivers need to take responsibility for their driving. In occupational driving, employers should train their drivers appropriately so that they are aware of how they can reduce their occupational road risk.
Steps to Prevent a Crash
The charity Brake is a road safety charity that encourages people driving for work to follow six steps that help to prevent crashes. These are:
- Slow – you should drive at 20 mph or less in built-up areas and also slow down on country roads.
- Sober – you should never drive while impaired (drink, drugs, medication)
- Sharp – you should never drive stressed or tired
- Silent – you should put your mobile phone on silent
- Secure – you should always wear your seat belt and make sure passengers wear theirs too
- Sustainable – you should avoid any unnecessary driving
A Future without Driver Error?
With driverless cars on the horizon, it’s estimated that millions of lives could be saved worldwide as driver error won’t play as much of a part in crash scenarios. In fact, deaths from driver errors could be a thing of the past altogether.
Cars with driverless technology are always alert and vigilant. They will always ‘see’ the pedestrian, the car in front, the obstacle and they won’t get distracted – or drunk! Most experts believe that road deaths will reduce drastically in number the more driverless vehicles come onto our roads.
Unfortunately, drivers and human error cause the most vehicle accidents on the UK’s roads and it’s up to drivers to be responsible for making sure they aren’t the cause of a crash. Employers can help their employees with clear training and guidelines to make them better drivers and reduce all of the aspects that increase the likelihood of a crash.