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Over 30,000 road accidents a year caused by drivers ‘failing to look properly’

So says the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) following a Freedom of Information request to the Department for Transport.

Police can record up to six contributory factors from a list of 77 for each incident to explain why they think a crash took place but the top two give the most obvious reasons for the incident.

Analysis of the 2013 contributory factor combinations shows that top of the list was ‘failure to look properly’ combined with a ‘failure to judge another person's path or speed’. These two together were responsible for 13,299 accidents, or 7% of the total number.

Next up was ‘failure to look properly’ combined with ‘carelessness or recklessness’, or ‘judged to be in a hurry’. These totalled 9,132 accidents, or 5% of the total.

Third was ‘failure to judge another driver’s path or speed’, combined with ‘carelessness or recklessness’, or ‘judged to be in a hurry’. Together these were judged to be a causation factor in 4,339 accidents, or 2% of the total.

Other reasons to emerge from the data were more than 3,000 accidents caused by ’slippery roads due to weather conditions’ combined with ‘loss of vehicle control’ (number seven on the list) and 1,470 accidents caused by ‘excessive speed’ combined with’ losing control of the vehicle’ (number 17).

Sarah Sillars, IAM chief executive officer, said: “These figures show conclusively that simple human errors continue to cause the majority of accidents. Drivers cannot blame something or someone else for a collision happening, it is down to every one of us to make a difference.

“We feel that many people eventually get complacent behind the wheel and inattention creeps in. Combine this with fatigue and distractions, inside and outside the vehicle and the message is clear that drivers must apply their full attention to driving – you simply cannot do two things at once if one of them is driving.

“We have consistently advocated that continuous assessment is one of the main ways to ensure no driver gets into bad behaviours that cannot then be rectified.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.