New data released by the government suggests that road safety is improving, despite an increase in the number of fatalities.

The Department for Transport (DfT) quarterly provisional estimates of British road casualties showed that, for the year ending June 2018, the number of people killed on UK roads had risen by three percent.

In the 12 months to June 2018, 1,770 road casualties were reported to the police – up from 1,718 the previous year. However, the DfT said such an increase was “not statistically significant” and was likely to be caused by “natural variation”.

Instead, the DfT pointed out that the total number of casualties had fallen by a “statistically significant” six percent and that increases in traffic meant the casualty rate per vehicle mile was also falling.

Paramedic resuscitating car accident victim with upset woman on the phone

The total number of casualties fell to 165,100 during the 12 months between July 1, 2017, and June 30, 2018, which the DfT described as a change large enough to “be considered as an indication of a real underlying trend”.

The report also showed that vehicle traffic had increased by 0.6 percent over the same period, reducing the overall casualty rate per billion vehicle miles to 500 – a drop of seven percent.

Police car roof flashers in the city

Although the figures are provisional, they also showed a very slight reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured. Between July 2016 and June 2017, 26,664 people either suffered serious injuries or were killed by a traffic collision. Over the following 12 months, that number fell to 26,610.

The vast majority of casualties (58 percent) were motorists, with pedestrians and cyclists accounting for just 14 percent and 11 percent of casualties respectively.

Cyclist hit by car with paramedics and police on scene

However, the gap was far smaller when looking at those casualties who were killed or seriously injured. Just over a third (37 percent) of those casualties were motorists, while pedestrians accounted for almost a quarter (23 percent). Motorcyclists, meanwhile, made up 22 percent of all those killed or seriously injured.

A statement from the DfT said: “Although there has been an increase in fatalities and decrease in total casualties in the year ending June 2018, these changes should be interpreted with caution. The increase in fatalities in the year ending June 2018 is likely to be due to natural variation. Therefore we cannot be sure that there has been a real change in fatalities.”

Car accident on street showing damaged automobiles

The news comes just months after the government was slammed for a “shocking lack of progress” on road safety, as official figures showed that 2017 saw the highest number of road deaths since 2011 and a three-percent increase in the number of serious injuries.

At the time, road safety charity Brake said people were “paying the price for the dominance of the motor car in our lives” and that government’s action on safety was “simply not good enough”. contacted Brake in light of the new figures, but the charity declined to comment.