Government Pedestrian Casualty Figures Overturn Public Perceptions on Speed and Bus Safety
Buses "Thirteen Times More Likely" to Knock Someone Down than "White Van Man"
Recent government figures on pedestrian casualties reveal the startling news that light goods vehicles ("White Van Man") kill and injure fewer pedestrians per mile travelled than any other vehicle type. Cars do almost as well in the pedestrian safety league — but the real shock is the threat posed by buses and coaches — they killed 13 times as many pedestrians per mile travelled in 2003 than vans and 10 times more than cars.
"This data turns public perception upside down," said ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries. "Buses are presented as everyone's friend, with "White Van Man" cast as the villain. But it looks like the old adage "you might be run over by a bus tomorrow" still holds good."
These collision figures also challenge another carefully nurtured public perception — that of "speed kills". DfT research shows that light vans are the most likely category of vehicles to break 30mph speed limits, with buses being the least likely.
"The pedestrian safety record of these two vehicle types is the direct opposite of their tendency to stick to speed limits," continued Humphries. "This demonstrates yet again that government obsession with speed limits is counterproductive."
It is not hard to find reasons why buses have such a poor pedestrian safety record.
- Buses are a very tight fit through "Traffic calming" obstructions, meaning the driver is concentrating on fitting through the gap rather than watching for pedestrians stepping out — and he has no avoidance space if he does see them.
- Bus drivers have a propensity to avoid sudden braking or steering manoeuvres to avoid danger or discomfort to often unsecured passengers.
- Bus lanes allow these large, ponderous vehicles to speed unfettered through busy urban streets. It is their speed relative to other vehicles in this environment that catches out pedestrians and leads to collisions.
Clearly there needs to be much more attention given to road design, bus design and bus driver training. The design and use of bus lanes will also need to be looked at. Above all, the DfT need to get to grips with the real cause of road crashes and to stop just trying to make them happen at the speed limit!
"Perhaps those using pedestrian casualties to campaign against the use of 4x4 cars might find their time is better spent addressing these issues," commented ABD Chairman Brian Gregory.
A full analysis of the figures for all types of vehicle (with references) has been carried out by road safety group 'Safe Speed', and the following link is supplied with their permission: