How Dangerous is Driving a Mile in the South East? Areas of Highest and Lowest Risk Revealed

- February 27, 2018

From cobbled village streets to modern motorways, more than 22,000 miles of roads weave across South East England, but not all roads are equally safe. Driving a mile in some areas is more dangerous than in other areas. Where is a motorist most likely to have an accident, especially one involving death or serious injury?

In order to explore the safety of South East England roads, we gathered accident, casualty and traffic data from the Department for Transport (DfT) for each local authority to determine accident and casualty rates per mile of driving. (See the Methodology section below for a detailed description of how we generated our results.) This gives an indication of the level of risk for every mile you drive down a road in each local authority.

Which Areas have the Best and Worst Motor Vehicle Accident Rates in South East England?

Motorists are least likely to have an accident driving through West Berkshire, with only 15 reported accidents per 100 million miles driven in 2016. Buckinghamshire and Wokingham are not far behind with 23 accidents per 100 million miles driven.

At the other end of the spectrum, drivers in Reading and Brighton & Hove face much higher accident rates of 90+ per 100 million miles of driving.

The data shows that you’re 6 times more likely to be in a motor vehicle accident driving a mile in Reading or Brighton & Hove than in West Berkshire.

Motor Vehicle Accident Rates by South East Local Authority

Number of accidents per 100 million miles driven on area roads

Chart showing the rate of motor vehicle accidents across South East England

Local Authorities in the South East Ranked by Lowest to Highest Rate of Motor Vehicle Accidents

Rank (1 is best, 19 is worst)Local AuthorityVehicle Miles (million, per year)Accidents (per year)Accidents/100 Million Miles of Driving
1West Berkshire1,93529815
2Buckinghamshire4,18596623
3Wokingham1,06324623
4Windsor and Maidenhead1,17135230
5Hampshire9,7872,95430
6Oxfordshire4,8271,49831
7Milton Keynes1,61160137
8Surrey8,8973,74242
9West Sussex4,6311,98843
10Bracknell Forest44219043
11Kent9,4554,42847
12East Sussex2,7401,37650
13Medway90161969
14Portsmouth79556171
15Slough54941676
16Southampton69053277
17Isle of Wight40132982
18Reading33630490
19Brighton and Hove85977991
Average51

While all car accidents are undesirable, those resulting in death or severe injury are certainly of most concern. To see which areas are most and least risky in terms of life-changing accidents, we also analysed data on accidents in which someone was killed or seriously injured (either in the car or as a pedestrian).

While it was expected that the larger cities have a higher accident rate in general due to congestion, larger towns also showed a higher rate of accidents that resulted in death or severe injury.

Odds of Death or Severe Injury Whilst Driving a Mile

West Berkshire again tops the safety charts, joined by Wokingham, with 4 killed or seriously injured per 100 million miles of driving in each local authority. Windsor & Maidenhead and Buckinghamshire follow close behind, each with 5 killed or seriously injured per 100 million miles of driving.

Southampton, Isle of Wight and Brighton & Hove are the least safe, with 18, 19 and 20 killed or seriously injured per 100 million miles driven on their roads, respectively.

Motorists are at least 4.5X more likely to be killed or seriously injured for every mile they drive in any of these three areas than in West Berkshire or Wokingham.

Risk of Death or Severe Injury for Every Mile You Drive

Local Authorities in the South East Ranked by Lowest to Highest Rate of Killed or Seriously Injured in Motor Vehicle Accidents

Rank (1 is best, 19 is worst)Local/Unitary AuthorityVehicle Miles (million, per year)Killed or Seriously Injured (per year)Killed or Seriously Injured/100 Million Miles of Driving
1West Berkshire1,935724
2Wokingham1,063464
3Windsor and Maidenhead1,171555
4Buckinghamshire4,1852295
5Surrey8,8975536
6Milton Keynes1,6111077
7Oxfordshire4,8273577
8Hampshire9,7877578
9Slough549519
10Kent9,4558879
11Bracknell Forest4424210
12Medway9019210
13West Sussex4,63148310
14East Sussex2,74038214
15Portsmouth79511114
16Reading3364714
17Southampton69012118
18Isle of Wight4017819
19Brighton and Hove85916920
Average10

Methodology

To measure the dangerousness of roads in each local authority, we looked at the most recent 2016 data on motor vehicle miles (the number of miles driven in each borough), accidents and reported casualties (specifically, the number killed or seriously injured) from the Department for Transport. Dividing the number of accidents or casualties by the vehicle miles driven in each borough gives a measure of risk for each mile that is driven in a borough—e.g., the odds of an accident per mile that a driver spends on a road.

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