The Department for Transport (DfT) has unveiled its annual report on road collisions in Great Britain, revealing a concerning uptick in pedestrian fatalities for 2023. The report indicates a total of 1,645 road fatalities for the year, reflecting a 4 per cent decrease from 2022. However, pedestrian deaths defied this trend, increasing by 6 per cent. This alarming rise comes in the wake of the Highway Code changes aimed at prioritising pedestrian safety, sparking debate over their effectiveness.

Motorcyclists saw the most significant improvement, with fatalities dropping by 12 per cent compared to 2022. This reduction suggests that safety campaigns and advancements in motorcycle safety gear may be yielding positive results. Car occupant fatalities also fell by 5 per cent, and deaths among pedal cyclists decreased by 7 per cent.

Overall, 29,643 individuals were either killed or seriously injured (KSI) in road incidents last year, a figure that remains relatively unchanged from the previous year. Despite the overall reduction in fatalities, the stagnant KSI rate highlights the persistent dangers on British roads.

“While there has been a slight decline in the year-on-year number of road users killed in crashes, the larger proportion of pedestrian fatalities, which is now at its highest since before the pandemic, should be a red flag to the Government signifying just how dangerous our roads still are. It’s extremely concerning that these figures have risen in the two years since the Highway Code was changed with a view to making the roads safer for the most vulnerable users,” RAC head of policy Simon Williams commented.

When examining fatalities per billion vehicle miles travelled, the data reveals a 6 per cent decline from 2022, indicating a slight improvement in road safety relative to travel volume. Nevertheless, the gender disparity in road incidents remains stark: 75 per cent of fatalities and 61 per cent of casualties of all severities were male.

Age-wise, the 17 to 29 age group continues to be the most affected, accounting for 24 per cent of all fatalities and 29 per cent of casualties. This demographic's high involvement in road incidents underscores the need for targeted interventions, such as enhanced driver education and stricter enforcement of road safety regulations.