Britain Has Safe Roads, But Pedestrians Are Vulnerable

A new report shows that Great Britain has consistently been among the world’s countries with the lowest rates of road deaths.

Second To Malta

In the past decade the UK has been second to Malta in the league table of safest countries. In particular, Britain has fewer vehicle occupant deaths per head of population. Other high-performing European countries are Sweden, Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland – two EU member states and two non-members.


Alas, there are areas where the UK does not compare so well. Measured against other leading countries, Britain has:

  • More vulnerable road user deaths per head of population (particularly pedestrians and motorcyclists), but no evidence of higher levels of activity (exposure);
  • A higher ratio of 18-24 year old road user deaths relative to other age groups, possibly reflecting the lower driving age limit in the UK;
  • A higher proportion of deaths on roads with speed limits of 60mph and above;
  • More deaths per unit length of motorway. Although this is not adjusted for vehicle miles, it still indicates where investment may have greatest benefit.
  • Lower Euro NCAP safety ratings for new cars; and
  • Euro NCAP pedestrian protection scores which are only 19th out of 28 European countries.


The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) is the body that published the study. The charity’s chief, David Davies, said: “It is often said that Britain’s roads are among the safest in the world. But do we have the safest roads, the safest vehicles, or the safest road users by comparison with other high performing countries? Are there areas where, comparatively speaking, Britain could do better and where investment and effort might be best concentrated?”


Davies went on: “This report shows that, over the past 10 years, the UK has been second to Sweden in the league table of fewest deaths per head of population. However, deaths among pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are noticeably greater in the UK.”

Five Star Safety

“The report highlights a number of areas where the UK could do better, added Davies. “Perhaps surprisingly, new cars in the UK have, on average, lower safety ratings than cars in other top performing countries. More worrying is that the average pedestrian protection rating for UK new cars is only 19th out of 28 European countries. The Government needs to promote cars that are low on emissions and high on safety, including pedestrian protection. PACTS urges the public and private sectors to buy only the safest vehicles – those with a 5 star safety rating.”