Road safety week 2019

Someone is killed or seriously injured on a British road every 20 minutes which is why the role insurers have in making roads safer is more important than ever

In the UK Road Safety Week is a seven day period of focus on raising the awareness of being safe around streets and roads, aiming to inspire motorists to play an active role in making streets safer. 2019 is the 22nd anniversary of Road Safety Week and its message is as pertinent as ever.

According to Brake, the charity behind the campaign, someone is killed or seriously injured on a British road every 20 minutes. That statistic is shocking and, as an employee of an insurance company, it reminds me that my industry can play a much more prominent role in making roads less dangerous.

Insurers in society

It is easy to view a car insurer as a company with a transnational relationship with its customers, only talking to them to renew policies or pay claims. However, the expertise and understanding of risk that insurers have, means we can and should be much more than that. Our industry can help Britain’s motorists lead much safer lives. 

This is a responsibility RSA takes seriously through its commitment to shaping a smarter tomorrow.

Driverless cars are making their way to Britain’s roads. In 2018, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, said that the Government was aiming to have fully autonomous vehicles on our streets by 2021. Through being part of the GATEway project RSA gained first-hand, early understanding of how they might address Britain’s future transportation needs, as well as an inside look at the role autonomous vehicles could play in road safety, with estimates suggesting they could eliminate 90% of road accidents.

GATEway driverless car being takes a drive around North Greenwich as part of a trial to see how the general public reacts. Play video
RSA and London's GATEway project

Safer driving

However, for the here and now, telematics is one of the main ways we can promote safer driving. Telematics has been touted as a way to make insurance more affordable for young drivers and, while this is very much the case, it is only half the story. Telematics can also help motorists perform much better behind the wheel, therefore playing an important role in road safety.

MORE TH>N Smart Wheels customers have their cars fitted with a black box that records information about how they drive, taking account of braking, accelerating and cornering. Although, there is no curfew, the box also reviews the time of day customers drive, how much time they spend behind the wheel and the length of their journeys.

With this data of how people drive, we can promote better driving behaviour. Those who drive well are rewarded though the year with discounts at renewal and a premium that reflects how safe they are as a motorist. Conversely, those who consistently or excessively speed, is policy cancellation.

Safety in numbers

  • 22 years

    is how long Road Safety Week, by Brake the road safety charity, has run in the UK

  • 1 million

    active telematics policies in the UK (estimated by BIBA)

  • 35% fall

    in number of young drivers killed or injured in road traffic accidents since 2011

Saving lives

Most encouraging is that our statistics show that our approach of incentivising safe driving really works.

Not only are telematics products becoming more and more popular (according to the British Insurance Brokers’ Association, there are almost one million telematics policies in force in the UK), they are helping to save lives. Research from Lexis Nexis shows that the number of 17 to 19 year old drivers killed or injured in road traffic accidents fell 35% since 2011, aided by an increase in young motorists opting for telematics policies. The comparative figure for the driving population as a whole was 16%.

Hopefully, the good practices that young drivers learn from their use of telematics policies is something that will really stick with them. Maybe the insurance industry can find a way to make telematics an offering that works for all drivers.

One thing’s for sure, anything that can help stop deaths and injuries on our roads from occurring every 20 minutes is something that should be seriously considered.