Transport Watch UK Focusing on UK's Traffic & Traffic Systems

LOW CARBON VEHICLES AND ROAD SAFETY

Wp ref. tcom/Electric for Transcom 2013

Comment in response to Transport Committee request: reference the debate of 25th April

 LOW CARBON VEHICLES

The government’s belief that electric vehicles, EV’s, emit 40% less carbon than equivalent internal combustion ones is based largely on the Arup – Cenex report[1].  That report depends on the (wild) claims of manufacturers.  Worse still, (a) despite pretending to represent the whole of life emissions, the report omits the very considerable energy required to manufacture and recycle the batteries (b) no account is taken of performance, or the greater weight of EV, which may be 50% heavier than competing Internal Combustion powered vehicles, ICV’s .

 In contrast, our analysis[2] compares the Well to wheel efficiencies and emissions for EVs with those for ICVs, for a range of operating conditions after allowing for battery manufacture and weight differences, thereby making like for like comparisons.  Our conclusion is that, far from emitting less carbon, the EV may emit more than its ICV competitor.  That view is supported by the recent Norwegian study reported by the BBC.[3]

Against that background it seems very likely that the dash for electric cars is misguided.

There is support for that view, albeit on different and wider grounds, from Professors Collings and Cebon, of Cambridge University, reference their letter to Ingenia, the quarterly produced by The Royal Academy of Engineering.[4]  That letter is compelling.  We commend it to the Transport Committee, copy attached.

Furthermore, Professor Collings notes that “over the last 50 years, average fuel economy (and hence CO2 emissions) have improved substantially, but so has performance.  There is little doubt that if the public were prepared to drive (and the manufacturers to manufacture) cars with the same performance as prevailed ~50 years ago, but with current engine technology, CO2 emissions could be approximately halved - while retaining the greater safety characteristics of modern vehicles”.

ROAD SAFETY

For more than 10 years prior to 1995 deaths per vehicle-km by road had been declining at over 7% per year.  Thereafter, and despite the support given to the camera campaign by the speed humps and countless other local measures, that decline, instead of accelerating,  collapsed to 2.5%, leading to over 10,000 extra deaths compared with those which would have arisen had the historic trend continued.[5]

From 2006 there has been an acceleration in the rate of decline, but that cannot be due to policies, since they did not then change.  Instead the acceleration may be due to the financial crisis which has led to more cautious behaviour and taken many young drivers, or would-be drivers, off the road. 

The graphs below illustrate.  The second of those provides a remarkable correlation between the extra deaths compared with the pre-1995 trend and the rate of speeding  fines, suggesting that the more they fine us the more we die.

In the light of that our view is that this speed camera campaign, and the setting of ever lower speed limits, has been counter-productive, and a public relations disaster, in that nearly all those fined, and millions have been, will have been driving perfectly safely for the conditions.

Worse than that, we sense that the officials driving this campaign have been less than candid about the impact of the cameras.  Often, if not always, those officials ignore the fact that installation usually follows a period where there has been a spate of accidents.  The corollary is that a site specific reduction should be credited to a return to the longer term average, rather than to the cameras.  The police are also to be criticised, see the Luxford case, which appears to be not untypical.[6]

The sense of disingenuousness is heightened when the official pronouncements to do with the danger of speeding are compared with the data.  For example, the impression has been created that speeding (meaning breaking the speed limit) is a major (30%) cause of road traffic accidents.  However, national data, see end note, shows that speeding, as a recorded cause, amounts to 5.4% of all causes for deaths and to 2.3% for all causes of injury accidents.

Likewise, there is great odium associate with mobile phone use. However, the data shows that, despite the frequency of that act, use of a phone amounts to 0.5% of the recorded causes of fatal accidents and to 0.15% of all causes for all severities of personal injury accident.  The reason will be that those who use their phones when driving have the good sense to do so only when the conditions suggest it is safe.

One reason for the collapse in the previous downward trend in road deaths is that the cameras distract drivers from the road ahead, replacing that with a fearful concentration on the speedometer.

Lastly, recent research by David Finney supports the view that speed cameras have had no beneficial effect.  In summary, the reports point out that (a) cameras are often cited in response to an abnormally high number of accidents within the previous three years (b) it takes about a year to install the cameras (c) in that year the number of accidents are greatly reduced compared with the three year record that created the rational for the camera site (d) after installation there was no further reduction in accidents despite the speed reduction brought about by the camera (f) the accident record after installation matched, or exceeded, that for the period prior to the record which led to the site selection.  It follows that it is very difficult indeed to claim that the cameras within Mr Finney’s substantial data set have had any beneficial impact on road traffic accidents.[7], [8]

……………………….

Separately from that we have carried out detailed calculations which show that the effect of slowing us down costs very much more, in terms of lost time, than it saves in reduced casualties.[9]  The implication is that, if the values for time and casualties used by the DfT are to be believed then, rather than slowing us down, they should be speeding us up.

……………………..

End note: Recorded causes of accidents:

The DfT Table RSA 50007, Contributory Factors in reported accidents for 2011, provides data enabling the following summary.  The source data, taking two pages, is appended.

2011 data

Fatalities

Seriously

Injured

Slightly

injured

All

injured

Total casualties

1,752

20,396

142,198

1614,346

Total recorded causes

4,447

49,012

337,012

390,460

Speeding as a recorded cause

242

1,378

7,252

8872

Phone use as a recorded cause

23

74

474

571

Speeding as % total recorded causes

5.4%

2.8%

2.2%

2.3%

Phone as % total recorded causes

0.52%

0.15%

0.14%

0.15%

Data table providing the recorded causes of road traffic accidents 


Source - DfT Table RSA 50007

Killed

Seriously injured

Slightly injured

All casualties

 

Contributory factor reported in accident

Number

Per cent

Number

Per cent

Number

Per cent

Number

Per cent

 

Road environment contributed

158

9

2,409

12

18,881

13

21,448

13

 

Poor or defective road surface

11

1

217

1

913

1

1,141

1

 

Deposit on road (e.g. oil, mud, chippings)

10

1

312

2

1,807

1

2,129

1

 

Slippery road (due to weather)

79

5

1,304

6

12,037

8

13,420

8

 

Inadequate or masked signs or road markings

3

0

55

0

797

1

855

1

 

Defective traffic signals

0

0

23

0

244

0

267

0

 

Traffic calming (e.g. speed cushions,

road humps, chicanes)

0

0

31

0

195

0

226

0

 

Temporary road layout (e.g. contra flow)

0

0

34

0

442

0

476

0

 

Road layout (e.g. bend, hill, narrow carriageway)

55

3

565

3

3,598

3

4,218

3

 

Animal or object in carriageway

15

1

235

1

1,572

1

1,822

1

 

Vehicle defects

55

3

450

2

2,643

2

3,148

2

 

Tyres illegal, defective or under inflated

28

2

177

1

931

1

1,136

1

 

Defective lights or indicators

8

0

47

0

214

0

269

0

 

Defective brakes

8

0

134

1

888

1

1,030

1

 

Defective steering or suspension

7

0

62

0

354

0

423

0

 

Defective or missing mirrors

0

0

0

0

13

0

13

0

 

Overloaded or poorly loaded vehicle or trailer

9

1

53

0

342

0

404

0

 

Injudicious action

498

28

4,604

23

37,740

27

42,842

26

 

Disobeyed automatic traffic signal

19

1

256

1

2,941

2

3,216

2

 

Disobeyed 'Give Way' or 'Stop' sign or markings

29

2

617

3

5,631

4

6,277

4

 

Disobeyed double white lines

16

1

105

1

321

0

442

0

 

Disobeyed pedestrian crossing facility

12

1

131

1

479

0

622

0

 

Illegal turn or direction of travel

21

1

163

1

1,095

1

1,279

1

 

Exceeding speed limit

242

14

1,378

7

7,252

5

8,872

5

 

Travelling too fast for conditions

226

13

1,759

9

11,440

8

13,425

8

 

Following too close

13

1

518

3

12,141

9

12,672

8

 

Vehicle travelling along pavement

6

0

55

0

281

0

342

0

 

Cyclist entering road from pavement

5

0

217

1

997

1

1,219

1

 

Driver/rider error or reaction

1,185

68

13,395

66

106,365

75

120,945

74

 

Junction overshoot

28

2

381

2

3,867

3

4,276

3

 

Junction restart (moving off at junction)

12

1

252

1

2,852

2

3,116

2

 

Poor turn or manoeuvre

202

12

2,842

14

20,114

14

23,158

14

 

Failed to signal or misleading signal

13

1

290

1

3,167

2

3,470

2

 

Failed to look properly

433

25

6,882

34

61,144

43

68,459

42

 

Failed to judge other person’s path or speed

200

11

3,186

16

33,955

24

37,341

23

 

Passing too close to cyclist, horse rider or pedestrian

24

1

377

2

2,143

2

2,544

2

 

Sudden braking

39

2

943

5

12,288

9

13,270

8

 

Swerved

116

7

872

4

5,796

4

6,784

4

 

Loss of control

599

34

4,190

21

19,604

14

24,393

15

 

Impairment or distraction

426

24

3,152

15

18,202

13

21,780

13

 

Impaired by alcohol

166

9

1,386

7

6,186

4

7,738

5

 

Impaired by drugs (illicit or medicinal)

54

3

229

1

729

1

1,012

1

 

Fatigue

84

5

420

2

2,183

2

2,687

2

 

Uncorrected, defective eyesight

9

1

53

0

301

0

363

0

 

Illness or disability, mental or physical

117

7

561

3

2,450

2

3,128

2

 

Not displaying lights at night or in poor visibility

5

0

92

0

428

0

525

0

 

Cyclist wearing dark clothing at night

7

0

89

0

384

0

480

0

 

Driver using mobile phone

23

1

74

0

474

0

571

0

 

Distraction in vehicle

82

5

559

3

4,787

3

5,428

3

 

Distraction outside vehicle

23

1

211

1

2,301

2

2,535

2

 

Behaviour or inexperience

467

27

5,247

26

35,461

25

41,175

25

 

Aggressive driving

122

7

919

5

4,771

3

5,812

4

 

Careless, reckless or in a hurry

285

16

3,533

17

24,351

17

28,169

17

 

Nervous, uncertain or panic

24

1

265

1

2,646

2

2,935

2

 

Driving too slow for conditions or slow vehicle
(e.g. tractor)

3

0

19

0

116

0

138

0

 

Learner or inexperienced driver/rider

71

4

1,071

5

6,635

5

7,777

5

 

Inexperience of driving on the left

9

1

84

0

594

0

687

0

 

Unfamiliar with model of vehicle

15

1

183

1

989

1

1,187

1

 

Vision affected by:

127

7

1,848

9

13,956

10

15,931

10

 

Stationary or parked vehicle(s)

18

1

585

3

4,308

3

4,911

3

 

Vegetation

5

0

66

0

414

0

485

0

 

Road layout (e.g. bend, winding road, hill crest)

27

2

250

1

1,839

1

2,116

1

 

Buildings, road signs, street furniture

2

0

49

0

336

0

387

0

 

Dazzling headlights

4

0

85

0

419

0

508

0

 

Dazzling sun

23

1

397

2

3,248

2

3,668

2

 

Rain, sleet, snow, or fog

23

1

256

1

2,234

2

2,513

2

 

Spray from other vehicles

5

0

27

0

312

0

344

0

 

Visor or windscreen dirty or scratched

2

0

25

0

134

0

161

0

 

Vehicle blind spot

29

2

242

1

1,916

1

2,187

1

 

Pedestrian only (casualty or uninjured)

302

17

3,779

19

12,058

8

16,139

10

 

Pedestrian crossing road masked by stationary

or parked vehicle

15

1

813

4

2,486

2

3,314

2

 

Pedestrian failed to look properly

180

10

2,858

14

9,147

6

12,185

7

 

Pedestrian failed to judge vehicle’s path or speed

106

6

921

5

2,926

2

3,953

2

 

Pedestrian wrong use of pedestrian crossing facility

14

1

312

2

961

1

1,287

1

 

Dangerous action in carriageway (e.g. playing)

40

2

350

2

1,149

1

1,539

1

 

Pedestrian impaired by alcohol

86

5

604

3

1,623

1

2,313

1

 

Pedestrian impaired by drugs (illicit or medicinal)

13

1

59

0

164

0

236

0

 

Pedestrian careless, reckless or in a hurry

47

3

1,203

6

3,944

3

5,194

3

 

Pedestrian wearing dark clothing at night

66

4

266

1

599

0

931

1

 

Pedestrian disability or illness, mental or physical

31

2

163

1

324

0

518

0

 

Special codes

110

6

1,009

5

6,018

4

7,137

4

 

Stolen vehicle

21

1

166

1

853

1

1,040

1

 

Vehicle in course of crime

14

1

105

1

596

0

715

0

 

Emergency vehicle on a call

7

0

90

0

1,048

1

1,145

1

 

Vehicle door opened or closed negligently

1

0

81

0

532

0

614

0

 

Other

75

4

623

3

3,316

2

4,014

2

 

Total number of casualties

1,752

100

20,396

100

142,198

100

164,346

100

 

Total recorded causes

4,447

 

49,012

 

337,012

 

390,460

 

 

Speeding as % total recorded causes

5.4%

 

2.8%

 

2.2%

 

2.3%

 

 

Phone as % total recorded causes

0.52%

 

0.15%

 

0.14%

 

0.15%

 

 

 


[1] Investigation into the Scope for the Transport Sector to Switch to Electric Vehicles and Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles.  Report for the BERR and DfT October 2008, Arup and Cenex

[2] See topic 32 in the Transport-watch web site http://www.transport-watch.co.uk/

[7] Does reducing traffic speed using speed cameras reduce the number of collisions?

http://speedcamerareport.co.uk/07_5pc_per_1mph.htm

[8] The effects of mobile speed cameras on road safety.

http://speedcamerareport.co.uk/08_mobile_report.htm

 



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