Is London Dangerous for Motorists?

Explore whether London’s reputation for dangerous driving is justified.

Published: 14th November 2017

London has a reputation for being one of the worst places to drive in the UK, with a huge number of vehicles, one way systems and road works all causing congestion problems, not to mention dangerous and inexperienced drivers.

There are 2.56m cars registered in London, with 54% of households owning at least one car in the capital. That equates to around 10% of all cars registered in the UK. However, while car ownership across Great Britain has steadily increased, in London it has remained static.

Using both primary data from our New Driver Accident survey and existing research surrounding driving in London, this post looks at whether the UK’s capital really is one of the most dangerous places for motorists.

London Accidents

Across the UK, the top five areas with the highest casualty rates were all found to be London boroughs. The highest casualty rate for those killed and seriously injured per billion vehicle miles was 455 in Westminster, followed by 410 in the City of London and 375 in Hackney. The lowest rate was in South Gloucestershire with just 33 casualties.

The DVLA has also revealed the London postcodes with the highest number of dangerous drivers, based on those with 12 or more points on their licence. Croydon, Walthamstow and Poplar were the top three areas for dangerous drivers in London, with each having at least 20 drivers with 12 or more points. Outer London areas were also found to have a high number of drivers with points on their licence, suggesting those closer to motorways might be more likely to be caught speeding.

New Driver Accidents in London

Our research at ALA into new driver accidents also found London to have one of the highest percentages of new drivers who were involved in at least one accident in their first year of driving. The top five areas where new drivers had at least one accident in their first year were:

1. Scotland – 36.35%
2. North East – 25.93%
3. West Midlands – 25.54%
4. London – 24.73%
5. South West – 23.68%

While London may not be the worst place for new drivers, 70.85% still managed to incur a cost from having an accident in their first year with an average cost of £932.76, which was the third highest amount after the North West and the West Midlands.

Reasons Behind Accidents in the Capital

As a driving experience, London is notoriously bad and there are a few possible factors behind the high rate of accidents in the capital. High population density and heavy traffic flow, especially during rush hour, are just some of the likely reasons for this. A wide variety of vehicles on the roads, from cars to bicycles and buses, and a high number of taxis which can be renowned for bad driving, are also often held responsible.

At the other end of the scale, urban areas such as Cardiff have a much lower accident casualty rate (45 per billion vehicle miles compared to Westminster’s 455). A few different factors are highlighted as to why this is, such as lower levels of traffic, better road engineering and investment in infrastructure.

Plans to Improve London’s Roads

There are plans in place to improve London’s roads and tackle issues such as congestion, poor infrastructure and dangerous driving in the capital. Transport for London’s Road Modernisation Plan is investing £4 billion into a project to improve the city’s busiest junctions, traffic signals, maintenance to roads, bridges and tunnels and create four Cycle Superhighways.

The TFL plan also aims to achieve six safety commitments. These include reducing the number of people killed or injured in road accidents by at least 40% by 2020. Other plans include undercover police officers being deployed in the capital on bicycles in an effort to catch dangerous drivers who are a threat to cyclists, and plans to pedestrianise part of Oxford Street.

Stay Safe When Driving in London

When driving in London it is important to remain patient, aware of your surroundings and fully alert to stay safe, given the huge number of motorists on the roads. A great way to protect your vehicle is with ALA GAP Insurance, which covers the shortfall between what you paid for your car and its value at the time it’s written off. Whether you’ve just bought a second-hand or new car, GAP insurance can protect your finances should you be involved in an accident.

Driving in London does appear to put motorists more at risk than elsewhere in the country, but with plans to improve the road infrastructure and safety, hopefully accident figures will soon start to fall.

Published: 14th November 2017
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