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Public Transport Injuries: safety on a bus

Author: Jake Holyoak
by Jake Holyoak
Posted: Oct 12, 2017

From 2015 to 2016, there were 4.53 billion journeys made on busses throughout the UK, which was a 2.6% decrease from the year previous from 2014/15 – when 5.2 billion journeys were made by taking a bus. When compared to 1950, this is also a significant decrease, with passenger journeys completed by bus 59% lower than in that year.

Although the evidence suggests that bus journeys are gradually falling year on year throughout the UK, less is known regarding the safety of bus travel throughout England and how many are injured on this form of transport per year. Alongside True Solicitors, specialists in public transport accident claims, we analyse the significance of bus injuries within the UK to establish both the safest and the most dangerous places to travel by bus throughout the UK.

Trips and miles covered by bus

Before establishing where in England injuries and fatalities occur on busses, it is important to establish the regional habits of bus users throughout the country – as this helps to define whether the most populated regions by bus travel are also the most dangerous in terms of fatality rates and serious injury.

Based on figures derived from Department for Transport statistics, London accounted for the highest average number of trips per person per year, with a total of 121 trips made per person from 2014/15.

This was followed by the North East, with the second highest average number of trips per person per year — 71 in total. Yorkshire and the Humber, and the North West, both accounted for an average of 60 trips per year, with the lowest number of average bus trips per person per year being undertaken in the South East.

Unsurprisingly, these regions remained the same when the highest average trip measure was changed to the total average miles per person per year. In London, 488 miles were covered on local busses, whereas in the North East this decreased to 340 miles per person.

This was then followed by the North West, amounting to 268 miles, whilst the South West and Yorkshire and the Humber accumulated 266 miles (per person per year) each in the year 2014/15.

Based on these regional locations, the total amount of miles travelled were in urban conurbations, at 379 miles a year, with the lowest number of miles accumulated in less urbanised areas such as rural villages, hamlets and isolated dwellings at 168 miles (per person per year). However, based on these figures, it is unclear as to whether urbanised areas are contributing to higher numbers of injuries and fatalities on busses per year.

Casualties and fatalities by road type

Based on information provided by Department for Transport statistics, over the years 2014/15, it can be established what type of road, whether that be an urban road, rural road or motorway, is the safest when travelling by bus.

Urban roads

In 2015, there were 3,857 casualties on urban roads in England. Of this number, four people were killed and 199 were seriously injured. Compared with the year previously, there were 323 more casualties in 2014, with a total of 4,180. From this total, five people were killed and 214 were seriously injured. Overall, the safety of bus passengers was improved in 2015 on urban roads, perhaps due to improved speed limits, speed cameras and other safety initiatives within urban environments.

Rural roads

Within rural areas over the same time frame, the safety of roads for bus passengers was significantly better. In 2015, there were 647 casualties on all rural roads across England, and one person was killed, whilst 67 were seriously injured. In comparison to 2014, there were less casualties, deaths and seriously injured bus travellers in 2015. Those involved in casualties was 943 passengers, and 2 were killed, whilst 69 were seriously injured. Again, there was an improvement in the safety of bus passengers on this type of road, with less numbers of all types of casualties.


Unlike urban roads and rural roads, motorways present more specific circumstances regarding the safety of bus passengers. This is because motorways accommodate the volumes of traffic present on an urbanised road, but they are also found in remote locations were traffic volumes can significantly decrease over a long period of time.

In 2015, there were less user casualties than on both urban roads and rural roads, with 122 in total. Unlike the other two types of road, there were also no fatalities that occurred in 2015 as a result of a bus injury. Furthermore, there were 9 bus users who were seriously injured.

Like 2015, there were no deaths on motorways in 2014. Although, there were less overall casualties in 2014 – at a total of 75, in comparison to 2015. However, there was one less seriously injured passenger in 2015, with a total of 10 in 2014.

Based on this data, it is evident that the safest roads to travel on by bus are motorways. However, the most dangerous roads to travel by bus are urban roads. What this means is that the passengers who make the most trips and travel the most miles by bus per year (within urban conurbations), are those that are the most at risk of being involved in a serious accident on the bus.

For those passengers to be safer in the future then, infrastructural investment needs to be placed within urban areas, so that roads and bus routes remain safe for those passengers using them every day.

Fatalities and casualties by region

Based on the three major types of roads in the UK – motorways, urban roads, and rural roads – it can also be established where the safest and most dangerous regions in England are when passengers choose to travel by bus. Here, we break down the numbers:

Fatal casualties

In 2015, there were a total of four fatal casualties in the UK. One occurred in the City of Bristol, one in Hounslow, another in Telford and Wrekin, and one in Coventry. However, the safest places in the UK were the East Midlands, Yorkshire and The Humber, the North West and the North East – with no reported deaths resulting from bus accidents.

This is a year-on-year improvement on the two years previous. In 2013, there were eight reported deaths, and six in 2014. Like 2015, in 2014 there were deaths in the South West – two reported in Cornwall. One was reported on the East of England in Hertfordshire, one in the West Midlands of Birmingham, one in the North West in Manchester, and one in Northumberland. Comparatively, it appears that the difference between 2014/15, is that in 2015, accidents leading to deaths on busses were concentrated in the South of England, and perhaps this is because London is most populated region regarding bus users in the UK. For these numbers to be reduced even further in 2017, heavily populated areas need to be attributed to bus deaths per year, so that more safety procedures on roads can be implemented in the future.

Serious injuries

During the period 2014/2015, there were significantly more serious injuries over the majority of regions in the UK. In total, there were 227 serious injuries in England (2015). The highest number of these occurred in London with 71 in total – the busiest urban conurbation in the UK. This was then followed by the South East, with 37 serious injuries occurring in this region.

From the previous year in 2014, again, it is evident that passenger safety improved in 2015. In 2014, there were 263 injuries overall, and coincidentally 71 occurred in London.

Although throughout England passenger safety is improving then, in the most densely populated area of the UK, safety is remaining consistent and isn’t necessarily improving. This is because serious injury rates remained the same over this year period. Overall, Department for Transport statistics have demonstrated that the South East, and London in particular, still presents certain dangers for those commuters travelling by bus. If London can learn from how the rest of England on how to improve passenger safety, then in the long-term, it stands to reason that we may see these statistics fall closer to zero.

About the Author

Jake Holyoak Digital Marketing Executive Mediaworks

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Author: Jake Holyoak

Jake Holyoak

Member since: Aug 23, 2017
Published articles: 25

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