Figures misleading

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CHRIS Blyth’s letter (Deaths on roads exceed average, Independent letters, May 17) contained a number of fundamental inaccuracies and was misleading to your readers.

Firstly, Mr Blyth has used an accident figure based on a single year of accidents in the UK, whereas he has compared that to an average of the past 10 years of accidents on the Isle of Man. The UK has recently had a massive drop in the number of fatal road accidents. Based on rough figures for fatalities over the past 10 years in the UK, the average is closer to 2,950 deaths a year, as opposed to 1,900, which is the figure Mr Blyth quotes.

This fact alone undermines Mr Blyth’s reasoning as he starts by distorting the mathematical comparison by about a third.

Over the past 10 years the UK has experienced an accident rate of about 1 in 22,000 people a year. In the same period the island has a rate of about 1 in 10,500, so whilst it is true that there are more accidents per person, the comparison is not very illuminating as a number of other factors apply.

Accident statistics show that motorcyclists are up to 14 times more likely to have an accident compared to general road users and half of the fatal accidents on the island involve motorcyclists.

The Isle of Man has, on average, approximately three times as many motorcyclists as a proportion of general traffic, and this rises to about 30 times during the TT, when about 10,000 additional motorcycles are in the island. In the UK, approximately 33 per cent of all road travel is by trunk road and these journeys account for only 6 per cent of accidents, whereas in the island all the roads are rural or urban in nature.

When corrections are applied for these factors it can be argued that the island’s roads are actually safer than in the UK, or at least no more dangerous.

Mr Blyth goes on to suggest that poor road condition has contributed to the island’s poor statistics. The Department [of Infrastructure] receives an independent accident report on each incident, and road condition does not appear as a factor in any of them.

Mr Blyth goes on to suggest that the condition of vehicles is a major factor. 

The department also examines the vehicles involved in fatal collisions and vehicle condition is not reflected as a factor. Only very rarely is it found to be a contributing factor.

I do not want to appear to be complacent about safety, and would advise that the island has a detailed strategy aimed at further accident reduction. However, I do wish to set the record straight and ensure readers have the facts to consider and form their own view.

In closing, I will be more than pleased to discuss any of the above with Mr Blyth and invite him to contact me should he wish to do so.

R. D. Pearson,

Director of Highways.

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