Lies, damned lies and statistics. That’s the phrase that springs to mind on the news that the Department for Transport has been using out-of-date accident statistics in the recent Think! anti-speeding campaign.
The campaign claimed that if a child was hit by a car travelling at 40mph there was an 80 percent chance of them dying, while if the speed was 30mph then the chances of death were reduced to 20 percent. What wasn’t pointed out is that the figures were from the 1970s and had not been adjusted for modern cars.
New research shows that the chances of a pedestrian surviving an impact at moderate speeds are actually much higher. In a 30mph impact seven percent of victims will be killed, while at 40mph that rate goes up to 31 percent.
A spokeswoman for the DfT explained that the reduction in fatalities could be attributed to improvements in car technology and safety, as well as medical advancements made in the last four decades.
“Road safety is a priority for the Government, but misleading statistics only serve to undermine our case, not help it,” Mike Penning, the road safety minister, told The Telegraph.
“However, the fact remains that the risk of death is still approximately four times higher when a pedestrian is hit at 40mph than at 30mph. So no one should be in any doubt that 30mph limits protect pedestrians, and that to speed through residential areas puts lives at risk.”
Penning accepted that the previous Labour Government had used the outdated figures in good faith, but said that the new figures should be released as soon as they were available.
“This Government will be absolutely straight with the public. That’s why we have published this data as soon as we were made aware of it,” he said.