Skip To The Main Content

The autopsy of a road accident, who’s really to blame?

by  | 

A unique new report titled Licensed to Skill has broken down what happens in those few seconds that happen before a road accident, analysing who is at fault, what their age and gender is, and what they did wrong.

Using data gathered by police and spanning 700,000 accidents from 2005-2009, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has analysed the intricate details of a road accident.

Some shocking findings emerged as a result of the report, the most unexpected being the role that speeding plays in accidents.

Project manager Neil Greig, of the IAM said, "If you look at Government campaigns they seem to say that speed is the number one problem. Illegal speeding – when drivers exceed the posted limit – accounts for only 13.9% of fatal accidents. A bigger cause (15.9%) is going too fast for the conditions, such as entering a bend too quickly, when you might well be under the actual speed limit."

The report found that the biggest cause of road accidents in the UK today is ‘driver error or reaction’.  Police list this as a factor in more than 65% of fatal crashes, although the heading covers a multitude of road mistakes.

Under this category, loss of control of the vehicle tops the list under driver error with 34% of fatal accidents, followed closely by failing to look properly which accounts for 20.5% of fatal accidents. Others include ‘poor turning or manoeuvres (12%) and ‘failed to judge other persons path or speed’ with 11.6%.

The next biggest cause of fatal accidents on UK roads is "injudicious action" (31%).  The top sub-categories under this heading were "travelled too fast for the conditions' (15.9%), "exceeded speed limit" (13.9%) or "disobeyed give-way or stop sign" (2.1%).

Third was "behaviour or inexperience" (28%), which covers mistakes such as "careless, reckless or in a hurry" (17%), "aggressive driving" (8.5%) and "learner/inexperienced" (5.3%).

The fourth main category, responsible for 19.6% of fatal road accidents, was "impairment or distraction" which includes "alcohol" (a factor in 9.6% of fatal accidents) and "distraction in vehicle" (2.6%).

However, it is not just drivers who are responsible for road accidents.  Pedestrians had their own category, and were responsible for an astounding 18% of collisions, with the top reason being failing to look properly (10%).

The report further analysed age, location, gender, and even time of day, coming to the damning conclusion that it is not the car, or external factors that are most likely to cause a fatal accident, but your own driving.

By Ben Malkin

© Copyright Autonet Insurance