Road Traffic Casualties in Disadvantaged Areas

Road Traffic Casualties in Disadvantaged Areas


J Hardin, AECOM, UK; G Whitfield, L Sutton, CRSP, UK


An investigation into the reasons for the relationship between road traffic casualties and relative socio-economic disadvantage, and what the implications are for practitioners.


There is evidence that, for some road users, there is a relationship between socio-economic disadvantage, as measured by the English Index of Multiple Deprivation, and the risk of being killed or injured on the road. In particular, children and young people from disadvantaged areas are at greater risk when walking compared with those from relatively affluent areas.

The UK Department for Transport commissioned research to explore the reasons why this might be the case both from the perspective of people living there, as well as agencies involved in road safety delivery. The project aimed to provide lessons for improving road safety service provision in disadvantaged areas and to provide suggestions for public policy responses, including improved linkages with other areas of public policy.

The main focus of the study involved five case studies in relatively deprived wards in Wigan, Bradford, Newham, Sunderland and Wolverhampton where there were also relatively high rates of pedestrian fatalities and injury. Each case study involved a review of local data and policy; interviews with representatives of local agencies to establish services and interventions in place and how these operate; research within communities to explore attitudes and behaviour, including lifestyles and culture, travel needs and behaviour and the street context.

The investigation concluded that attention should be focused on the riskier physical environments that tend to feature in areas of relative disadvantage which are often characterised by high density housing, major arterial roads through residential areas and older housing with high levels of on street parking. It is supportive of traffic management and engineering interventions that focus on improving hazardous environments to the benefit of pedestrians. The research also drew attention to the problem of access to safe spaces and supervised facilities for children and young people to socialise and play outside the home. This would suggest that measures to provide and improve access to safe spaces and facilities have an important role to play in reducing the relatively high risk of injury for young people in disadvantaged areas. The need to involve the community in planning and developing appropriate responses was also recognised.

The research also highlighted the need to consider the issue of reducing inequalities in road injury in a cross-cutting, multi-disciplinary context involving many agencies beyond road safety departments including those involved in urban and leisure planning. This raised the need to mainstream road safety into other policy agendas so that it becomes entrenched in strategic-level planning and policy by other organisations. Some key elements for effective partnership working on road safety issues at an operational level were identified.

The research findings and recommendations are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the DfT.


Association for European Transport