As Dorset Police have reduced the number of traffic officers patrolling the roads, deaths have increased in the UK county.
The Police cuts – applied in 2012 – have coincided with the number of road deaths increasing, reversing the previous trend. The BBC have uploaded an interesting article covering the story here.
Closer examination of the available data on the subject reveals that Dorset may have a far more serious road safety issue than has been reported or realised.
Using a selection of UK and US government statistics, it can be shown that the county of Dorset actually has a road death toll that is seven times higher per mile than the UK average and is a stunning seventeen times higher than the rate for the United States.
And all this from a mostly rural county that has zero miles of motorway within it.
Roadwax recorded the rate of road deaths per day in comparison to the total miles of road in the county of Dorset. Then, this figure was compared with similar statistics for the whole of the UK and the whole of the US, using the most recent and accurate statistics available for comparison.
The results are shown in the table below.
One issue that is raised by this research is how statistics and data can be shown in different ways to highlight particular arguments.
In this case, the simplest figures have been used and the mathematics is also straightforward. By dividing the number of road deaths into the number of miles of road across the area of Dorset, we get a factor – 1: 2,548.
That is: one road death for each 2,548 miles of road, per day.
If we then divide the miles of road available across the UK and also the US by this figure of 2,548 – we obtain the answers shown in the graph. We then compare the daily deaths recorded in the UK and US with Dorset.
If the answers in the graph are to be believed, then the county of Dorset has a serious road safety issue that needs to be examined urgently.
There is currently a lively and valuable debate being conducted over how road safety campaigns should be translated into actual positive results. You can read a range of localised views here and here. The debate extends nationally and is discussed in recognised road safety forums, such as this one.
But what data is being used to form opinions? Which figures should be used to make up arguments? Twice the fatality rate per mile might be seen as a high figure but seven times the national comparison is alarming.
And to be seventeen times more likely to be killed on a Dorset road than on an American road may provide an interesting starting point for the examination of exactly which road safety data figures are being given the most attention within the media today.