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Death by dangerous driving crime figures rise by 38%

25 Feb 2014 at 11:20

Police recorded crime figures for causing death by dangerous driving in the 12 months to September 2013 have increased by a disturbing 38% to 226, the RAC can reveal.

In 2012 the figure was 62 lower at 164, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures published in response to a parliamentary question.

There has, however been a 14% reduction in the number of death by careless or inconsiderate driving offences – down from 161 to 138.

Taking into account all offences relating to causing death at the wheel** in the 12-month periods to September 2012 and 2013 there was a 13% increase*** from 355 in 2012 to 402 in 2013.

Convictions rates in England and Wales for causing death by dangerous driving in 2012**** showed that 163 prosecutions were brought but only 116 were people were found guilty and sentenced. Of those convicted 92% (107) were men and nine were women, meaning men are 12 times more likely to be responsible for causing death by dangerous driving than women.

RAC technical director David Bizley said: “As these figures relate to recorded crimes it appears that either more death by dangerous driving offences are being committed or the police are treating this type of incident far more seriously than they have done in the past.

“If it is purely down to more offences being committed it is a very alarming increase and something that needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. It is hard to comprehend why such a sudden and dramatic increase like this might have occurred against a background of a continuing reduction in killed and serious injured casualties on our roads.

“If, on the other hand, it is down to police classing more incidents as being caused by dangerous driving rather than the lesser offence of careless driving then the police are sending a very clear message that may well help to bring about a positive change in behaviour among motorists. The reason for this change in how these crimes are recorded is interesting and leads us to wonder whether it has been brought about as a result of public and political feeling about the severity of these offences.”

Research from the RAC Report on Motoring 2013 showed that whilst generally, driver behaviour has not changed markedly in recent years, there are several areas where drivers admit to succumbing to distractions arising from new technology.

Twenty-one per cent of motorists admitted to holding a mobile phone while either driving or stationary at the lights and more than 10% of drivers admitted to using a smart phone to access email, social networks or other websites when behind the wheel. An increasing number of drivers also admit to adjusting or programming their satnav whilst on the move.

David Bizley added: “We have no direct evidence that these behaviours are linked to the recorded crime figures but it would be particularly ironic if this sharp rise in causing death by dangerous driving recorded crimes turned out in some way to be connected to distractions from technology at the wheel at a time when vehicle technologies are doing so much to reduce casualties.

“If this was the case, better enforcement is clearly needed along with a high profile road safety campaign that highlights the horrific consequences regardless of its cost.”

In addition, the number of recorded crimes for causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs convictions has increased from 16 to 21 (31% up), although the statistical base is deemed too small for ONS to determine a percentage change figure.

- Ends -

If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact:

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Notes to Editors

* The latest statistics, published by ONS on 23 January 2014, can be found within Table A4 within the link below. An extract of this table is included below for reference:

ONS states:

Police recorded crime by Road Traffic Act offence resulting in the death of the victim, extract from table A4 year ending September 2013 (Police recorded crime data are not designated as National Statistics).

However, there may be a small number of homicides that are the result of the offender driving unlawfully which will be recorded as homicides rather than under the above offences. This is because Road Traffic Act offences only apply on the public road or in public areas. Therefore, if an individual is killed by someone driving a car dangerously on private land it will be recorded as a homicide.

While the recent de-designation of police recorded crime has led to concerns about the accuracy and reliability of statistics based on police recorded crime, these offences are not ones that are likely to be under or mis-recorded.

    12 months to September 2012 12 months to September 2013 % change between years
4.4 Causing death by dangerous driving 164 226 38
4.6 Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs 16 21 (1)-
4.8 Causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving 161 138 -14
    12 months to September 2012 12 months to September 2013 % change between years
37.1 Causing death by aggravated vehicle taking 2 10 (1)-
4.9 Causing death by driving: unlicensed or disqualified or uninsured drivers 12 7 (1)-
(1) Indicates that data are not reported because the base number of offences is less than 50. Source: Police recorded crime, Home Office.

** Includes ‘Causing death by aggravated vehicle taking’ and ‘Causing death by driving: unlicensed or disqualified or uninsured drivers’ as well as the other offences

*** RAC calculated based on sum of all offences

Table A4.4  -  Offenders found guilty at all courts or cautioned for violence against the person, 2002 - 2012(1)

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