Road deaths down but why?

The difficulty with statistics is highlighted by the announcement of a significant fall in the number of road deaths in 2007. For the first time since records began in the 1920s, they have fallen below 3,000. But while on the face of it this sounds unequivocally good news, it may reflect trends that are far from desirable.
For example, cycling seems to be in slight decline other than in London and a few places where it is being actively encouraged. That may be the reason for the decrease in deaths. However, it is even more complicated than that. Cycling becomes safer when there are lots of cyclists,as in London where the numbers have increased but deaths and serious injuries have declined. So, in fact, the decline in deaths may be a result of cycling transferring from less safe places, where there are few riders, to safer ones where there is a critical mass. Moreover, most of the reduction in cycling deaths has been a result of fewer child casualties. That may be because of greater awareness of safety, although most probably it is down to fewer children being allowed on the roads.
There are equally ambivalent points about pedestrian deaths which fell 5 per cent. Again, that may be because fewer people cross roads and use their cars instead to travel even short distances.
The reduction in car user casualties may be down to lower speeds which could be a result of congestion or the result of road safety campaigns. The statistics, therefore, are frustrating and need really detailed analysis. It would be churlish not to welcome the overall reduction but the statistics beg a lot more questions than they answer.

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