Road traffic collisions in London linked to level of neighbourhood deprivation

New analysis published to coincide with Road Safety Week shows that people living and working in London’s most deprived neighbourhoods are twice as likely to be injured in a road traffic collision than the least deprived areas.

The analysis, produced for London’s Poverty Profile by WPI Economics on behalf of Trust for London and the London Road Safety Council (LRSC), explored the relationship between deprivation and the area in which road collisions occur. 

It found that:

    • There are more road traffic collisions recorded in the most deprived neighbourhoods in London than the least deprived; the 10% of areas with the highest deprivation saw nearly 3,000 casualties in 2019, more than double the 1,400 in the 10% of areas with the lowest deprivation. 
    • A similar pattern is seen on roads where the speed limit is below 30 miles per hour, implying these collisions affect residents in more deprived areas, not just on main roads passing through them. 
    • This trend is even more extreme when looking only at collisions involving pedestrians; these are nearly three times as common in the most deprived neighbourhoods compared to the least. 
  • The relationship between road collisions and deprivation can be seen most clearly in collisions involving slight injuries. 

According to road safety data from the Department for Transport, more than 25,000 road collisions were recorded in London in 2019. The vast majority of these resulted in only slight injuries, such as whiplash and bruising, but over 3,600 resulted in serious injuries. 

Sadly, 120 road collisions in London in 2019 led to the death of one or more drivers, passengers, riders, cyclists or pedestrians. 

The analysis has been published during UK Road Safety Week (16-22 November). Established by Brake more than 20 years ago, Road Safety Week seeks to raise public awareness of road safety issues and is intended to act as ‘the driver for positive change on UK roads’.

Professor Nicola Christie, professor of transport safety in the centre for transport studies at UCL and president of the LRSC, said: “I am grateful to Trust for London for undertaking this work which shows, as we had feared, the reality of inequality when it comes to road safety in London. 

“On a positive front, we are hopeful that initiatives such as School Streets and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods that have arisen from Covid-19 measures will have a positive impact on this situation, but a major concern remains the absence of funding to local councils to continue programmes of education and training that would essentially target the more at risk groups.

“The strong link between deprivation and road casualties especially for pedestrians provides the justification for the Department for Transport and Transport for London to include a measure of casualties by level of deprivation in their road safety strategies. 

“This is needed to focus national and local effort on reducing these unacceptable and avoidable health inequalities at a time of increasing economic hardship and changing mobility patterns due to the pandemic.”

Bharat Mehta, chief executive at Trust for London, said: “Despite having a level of economic performance to be proud of, London has more people living in poverty – in numbers as well as a proportion of the capital’s population – than any other region of the country and there is a gulf in the outcomes of its residents. 

“This London’s Poverty Profile analysis indicates that the chance of being involved in a serious or fatal road traffic collision is also linked to economic factors.”

17 November 2020