Insurers and brokers already know that London based policyholders generally face higher risks than those outside the capital. The sheer volume of vehicles and jammed roads, plus stressed people trying to make a living and working long hours, can lead to accidents. So the latest TfL stats on road casualties in 2019 makes for interesting reading.
Transport for London released data showing that 125 people were killed on London’s roads in 2019, with 3,780 seriously injured.
In 2019, 68 people were killed while walking on London’s roads, up from 57 in 2018, accounting for 54 per cent of all fatalities. Of these, 44 were as a result of a collision with a car. Five people died while cycling, down from 12 in 2018, and 31 motorcyclists were killed, up from 22 in 2018.
There were 25,341 reported collisions in London in 2019. People walking, cycling and motorcycling made up 83 per cent of all people killed or seriously injured last year, highlighting the need for urgent lifesaving measures including segregated cycle lanes, 20mph speed limits, Low Traffic Neighbourhoods, the removal of lorry blind spots and improved motorcycle training, which all aim to protect the most vulnerable on the capital’s streets – says TfL.
But are new cycle lanes saving lives overall, or endangering lives by blocking emergency vehicles from making progress?
BAD TRAFFIC PLANNING WILL COST LIVES
TfL introduced new cycle lanes, blocked roads using plant pots and installed other traffic-delaying measures during lockdown, neatly sidestepping the usual public consultation process. However this week TfL announced the Euston Rd bike lane would be removed.
There are consequences when it comes to poorly thought out road schemes, and lives are at stake. In Southwark a woman who had fallen from a fourth floor had to wait while an ambulance turned around, finding the road blocked with plant pots
There have also been cases where the Fire Brigade found their access to an emergency incident blocked due to padlocked gates on a designated `Quiet Street.’
Insurers need to be aware that some accidents may occur as drivers encounter hazards like plant pots and metal barriers, or their vehicles are hit by drivers attempting to use the pavement to navigate around the council-installed roadblocks. Those in the telematics sector have a tough time ahead syncing the latest information on signage, blocked roads and narrower lanes into their customer dashboards too.
It’s a chaotic, ill-thought approach on new traffic rules, closed junctions, cycle lanes and more by councils across the UK. The net result will be a headache for motor insurers, FNOL and legal specialist firms, all struggling to sort out the mess after an accident. Consider just one scenario; a motorcyclist is seriously injured and cannot get medical help due to blocked roads and ambulance crews SatNav containing the wrong information. The injuries prove to be life-changing, rather than treatable due to an extra 45 minutes delay in the biker getting help. Who is at fault in that chain of consequences and how much should their respective insurers pay towards rehab and assisted living expenses for the next 30 years?
GOOD NEWS – THE OVERALL TREND IS SAFER ROADS, LOWER AVERAGE SPEEDS, FEWER ACCIDENTS
While the majority of Londoners are driving safely during the coronavirus pandemic, there has been an increase in speeding, resulting in a number of road fatalities and injuries. A Met police review of fatal collision investigations for 2019 showed that around half of these had speed as a contributing factor to the collision, which is why speed enforcement across London is a priority for TfL and the police. TfL will bring in a 20mph speed limit on over 20km of roads as part of the Streetspace plan to make walking and cycling safer. Following the launch of a 20mph speed limit within the Congestion Charging Zone in March, the same limit has recently been introduced on Edgware Road, Park Lane and Hampstead Road.