The Department for Transport has released a batch of figures and results from 2009 that show road accidents are falling in the UK.

Now, these results aren’t the cheeriest of subjects to focus on, but what do they reflect?

The facts:

There were 222,146 reported road casualties in 2009- four per cent less than in 2008. There were 2,222 fatalities on the road in 2009- 12 per cent less than in 2008. There were 24,690 road users seriously injured in 2009- five per cent less than in 2008. There were 195,234 road users who reported slight injury in 2009- four per cent less than in 2008. The number of fatalities fell for almost all types of road users. There was an eight per cent decrease in the number of people killed or seriously injured in an accident involving drink driving.

Contributory factors:

38 per cent of incidents involved drivers failing to look properly. Four in five of the most frequently reported contributory factors involved driver or rider error, with 36 per cent of fatalities being the result of a loss of control. Speeding accounted for five per cent of accidents but a larger 17 per cent of fatalities. Pedestrian carelessness resulted in 58 per cent of accidents in which pedestrians were killed or seriously injured.

Road Safety and the Budget

As the old adage goes, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, yet alterations are being made to road safety measures with budget cuts impacting greatly upon which measures local authorities will put in place to monitor, prevent and enforce road safety.

It will be interesting to compare these results with those of the forthcoming years, after the big speed camera switch off and a movement towards more economically viable road safety measures.

Will the findings continue to fall?

Another massive factor is the vastly improving safety features and technologies that are becoming standard issues on cars across the range- undoubtedly pushed by the EuroNCAP rating system.

By making public what cars should aim for and in turn what cars are failing to achieve will continue to push standards of safety as long as the system keeps becoming more stringent.

The first results of the NCAP test were published in 1997 and since that historic date, they have been developing and adding more tests to their repertoire, forcing manufacturers to improve in accordance to the tests.

The Volvo S40 was the first car to achieve a four star rating in that same year while in June 2001, the Renault Megane became the first car to get a five star rating.

Increasingly the five star rating for adult occupant protection is being see as a necessary requirement for new models.

Top 5 Safety Innovations

Adaptive Cruise Control: Adaptive cruise control goes further than simply maintaining a set speed. Through radars and sensors, the car is able to apply its brakes or throttle to keep a safe distance between itself and other cars- all without driver intervention.

Blind Spot Detection: This system can be utilised either when driving or parking. Again through a use of sensors, this system is capable of detecting if either a car or object is in the drivers blindspot. The system will then alert the driver accordingly.

Emergency Response System: In the event of an emergency, clarified by the deployment of airbags, processes are put into place to aid the driver. This normally includes the engine being turned off and the hazards applied. There are more sophisticated examples of this system, like the BMW Assist system which sends an automated alert to its reactive response centres.

Rear-view Cameras: This recent addition betters mirrors by providing live un-blocked coverage of the area immediately about the car’s rear.

Occupant Sensitive Airbags: These are airbags that are sensitive to the weight and position of the occupant they are specifically concerned with. They react in accordance with the occupant.