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Facts sheet 13: The contributions of speeding, mobile phone use and alcohol use to road traffic accidents

The following data relates to 2014.  It is extracted from the DfT data here where the data below is at the foot of the spread sheet..

Table 1 shows that speeding, mobile phone use and alcohol make surprisingly small contributions to the recorded causes of casualties in road traffic accidents.  The mobile phone data is particularly striking in view of how common the offense seems to be.  It accounts for roughly one in 200 of all recorded causes in fatal accidents and one in 500 of the recorded causes in all injury accidents attended to by the police.

Table 1.  Recorded causes as percentage of casualties and causes
 
Killed
Serious
Slight
Total
Total casualties
1,651
20,120
136,839
158,640
Speeding as percent of casualties
17.08
7.45
4.86
5.32
Mobile use as percent of casualties
1.45
0.55
0.46
0.48
Drink as percent of casualties
8.54
6.70
3.97
4.36
Total causes
4,369
48,844
326,997
380,210
Speeding as % total causes
6.45
3.07
2.03
2.22
Mobile as % of total causes
0.55
0.23
0.19
0.20
Alcohol as % total causes
3.23
2.76
1.66
1.82
 
Further, in any accident there are usually two or more recorded causes.  hence, if we suppose that eliminating one of the causes would halve the number of accidents where such a cause is recorded then eliminating the cause would save the casualties in the table below.  Even if the numbers are doubled it is clear, for example, that eliminating all mobile phone use would have an entirely trivial effect on fatalities.  Likewise, but less so, with speeding and alcohol use.
 
Table 2. Casualty saving supposing the cause is eliminated and
half the accidents containing that cause are saved
 
Killed
Serious
Slight
Total
Speeding
141
750 3,326 4,217
Mobile use
12
56
317
385
Alcohol  use
71
675 2,716 3,461
 

Note, the data in these tables do not include accidents were no police were present.

Updated September 2016



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