“We decide what our risk appetite is, and what we’re prepared to encounter and what we’re prepared to not. Not withstanding the carnage on our roads, certainly killing more people than Covid at the moment, some of us still decide to drive.”

Sir Desmond Swayne, House of Commons

December 14, 2021

Facts

In 2020, an estimated 1,460 people were killed on Britain's roads. To take a higher figure, there were an estimated 23,529 killed or seriously injured casualties in 2020.

Meanwhile, in 2020, 69,771 people died from Covid-19 in the UK in the year to 4 December 2020. There have so far been 149,00 deaths from Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic, less than two years ago. 

Because Sir Desmond Swayne made it clear in his response that he was referring to recent stats when he said “at the moment”. According to the Office for National Statistics 3,325 deaths involving Covid-19 occured in just the 4 weeks before he made his statement. The latest reported total road deaths in Great Britain between June 2021 and June 2021 is 1,390.

Verdict 

Sir Desmond’s claim that more people are killed on the roads than by Covid-19 was false. 

We wrote to Sir Desmond pointing this out. He replied “Thanks. Your analysis is correct. In the heat of debate I got it wrong.”

We then asked him if he would be correcting the parliamentary record. He replied: “I’ll take advice from the parliamentary authorities” 

Shortly afterwards he came back to us and said: “Done. Just after & this-evening on a point of order”. View Sir Desmond Swayne correcting his statement in the House of Commons here.

We are grateful to Sir Desmond for his quick and frank response. If only others could follow his example. 

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