UK road deaths rise to five-year high

Government figures show that the number of people killed on British roads rose to 1792 in 2016, the highest figure since 2011

Words By Claire Evans

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According to official statistics released by the Department for Transport, the number of people killed on British roads rose by 4% (or 62 deaths) last year compared with 2015.

The report states: β€œAlthough the number of people killed in road-traffic accidents has increased… this change is small enough that it can be explained by the natural variation in deaths over time.”

However, RAC road safety spokesman, Pete Williams, disagrees: β€œEvery road user, and certainly all of those working to improve road safety, will view these figures with dismay. Road fatalities in Great Britain are now higher than at any time in the last five years. While the statisticians say the rise isn’t significant, every life lost on our roads is surely one too many."

Around 46% (816) of those who died in road traffic accidents were the occupants of cars; an 8% increase on 2015. Of those, 68% were drivers; and of those drivers, a disproportionately high proportion (19%) were aged between 17 and 24.

Road safety charity IAM RoadSmart is also disappointed by the latest figures and suggests drivers must take their share of the blame.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart’s director of policy and research, says: β€œAlthough cars are getting safer and there has been a step change in new road investment, careless human behaviour and increasing traffic levels are cancelling this out.

β€œRoad safety is everyone’s responsibility and it is clear that working in partnership to promote it is the key to returning to long-term downward trends. Accelerating the uptake of AEB [autonomous emergency braking] equipped cars and promoting best practice in driving for work are just two examples where quick gains could be made.”

Pedestrians accounted for 25% (448) of deaths in 2016; also an increase on the previous year. Motorcyclists were the only group to see a reduction in deaths, falling by 13% to 319 fatalities and accounting for 18% of the total.

Traffic levels rose by 2.2% between 2015 and 2016.

The safest family cars

Car safety standards have definitely risen dramatically, even in the past 10 years, but there are still sizeable differences between the best and worst performers. This is highlighted by the crash tests conducted by independent safety assessors at Euro NCAP. So, if you're looking for a new car to keep you and your family safe, what should you choose?

Below, we count down the 10 family-friendly cars that have received the highest scores since the latest and toughest version of the test was introduced at the start of 2016. The total Euro NCAP score is rated out of 400.

10.= Land Rover Discovery

Total Euro NCAP score 318

The new Land Rover Discovery is one of the best family SUVs you can buy, achieving a five-star What Car? rating as well as a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. It can seat seven adults and combines a fantastic, elevated driving position with a very comfortable ride, plus it's as capable off the road as it is on it.

Read our full Land Rover Discovery review

10.= Subaru Levorg

Total Euro NCAP score 318

This practical, four-wheel-drive estate car earned the same Euro NCAP score as the Discovery, but it's nowhere near as impressive in other areas: it's expensive to buy, the ride is poorly controlled and the interior feels cheap.

Read our full Subaru Levorg review

9. Audi Q2

Total Euro NCAP score 319

Adults will feel a bit cramped in the back of Audi's smallest SUV, but children will be fine and the interior is beautifully finshed. The Q2 is great fun to drive, too, and has a slightly higher overall safety score than the larger Audi Q5.

Read our full Audi Q2 review

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