From the TUC

Road safety and inequality

17 Aug 2010, by in Public services, Society & Welfare

In recent Cuts Watch postings we’ve reported on the rapid disappearance of road safety cameras. Figures out today reveal that the price in extra deaths and injuries will be more likely to be paid by the poor.

Philip Hammond, the Secretary of State for Transport has said that the decision to stop funding local authorities’ cameras is about more than saving cash. He says it is a good thing in itself: the government will “end the war on motorists.” This is despite the findings of independent research funded by his own Department, which found that, at camera sites, speeds were down and excessive speeding was substantially reduced and there were 100 fewer deaths a year.

Today saw the publication of the Child Casualties Report 2010 by Road Safety Analysis Ltd. This study looks at the level of risk on the roads faced by children in 2004-8, analysed by where they live. On average, one child in 427 in Britain is injured on the roads each year, but there are huge variations from area to area – in Preston the rate is one in 206, in Kensington and Chelsea, one in 1,158.

Using postcodes, the report is able to link casualties to the Experian MOSAIC socio-demographic classification system (increasingly used by marketers). The study specifically looked at which types of community are under- and over-represented; in the table below, 100 means that a community has the same proportion of accidents as its share of the population. A lower number means a lower risk rate, a higher number a higher rate:

Children’s relative risk of casualties, 2004-8

Mosaic group Risk index
Symbols of Success:

People with rewarding careers who live in sought after locations, affording luxuries and premium quality products


Happy Families:

Families with focus on career and home, mostly younger age groups now raising children.


Suburban Comfort:

Families who are successfully established in comfortable, mature homes. Children are growing up and finances are easier.


Ties of Community:

People living in close-knit inner city and manufacturing town communities, responsible workers with unsophisticated tastes.


Urban Intelligence:

Young, single and mostly well-educated, these people are cosmopolitan in tastes and liberal in attitudes


Welfare Borderline:

People who are struggling to achieve rewards and are mostly reliant on the council for accommodation and benefits


Municipal Dependency:

Families on lower incomes who often live in large council estates where there is little owner-occupation


Blue Collar Enterprise:

People who though not well-educated are practical and enterprising and may well have exercised their right to buy.


Twilight Subsistence:

Elderly people subsisting on meagre incomes in council accommodation.


Grey Perspectives:

Independent pensioners living in their own homes who are relatively active in their lifestyles


Rural Isolation:

People living in rural areas where country life has not been influenced by urban consumption patterns.


The social distribution of car ownership is different. The table below shows the proportion of households in each income quintile with access to at least one car in 2007:

Access to one or more cars, GB, 2007

Top fifth


Next fifth


Middle fifth


Next fifth


Bottom fifth


There is a class dimension to scrapping road safety cameras; yet again, the cuts harm the interests of groups disproportionately likely to be poor and benefit the interests of groups disproportionately likely to be better-off.

One Response to Road safety and inequality

  1. Start Traffic Management
    Aug 23rd 2010, 10:43 am

    We feel that static speed cameras being turned off is a good thing (in general), It will stop drivers spending more time concentrating on their speedo and allow them to concentrate on what is coming along the road. Outside schools and areas where children are present there needs to be an alternative method of speed control that forces drivers to slow, yet allows them to concentrate on the road, not their speedo, or swerving around slaloms.

    However, in some places we think speed cameras are essential, such as road works were average speed cameras should be compulsory (when people are working) to prevent drivers from speeding past and causing a potentially deadly hazard for workers.

    Speed Cameras have their place, but when placed in area just to catch people. It isnt right.