Campaigners shocked as Harrogate district has highest number of fatal accidents in county
Last updated Dec 1, 2023
Police at the scene of a fatal collision on the A61 in September.

Road safety campaigners say they are shocked after data revealed the Harrogate district has the highest number of fatal accidents in the county.

Data released by North Yorkshire Council, showed 16 of 89 fatal collisions in North Yorkshire happened in the Harrogate district. Only Selby had the same number.

The data is taken from January 1, 2019, to December 31, 2022.

Hazel Peacock, Dr Jenny Marks, Dr Vicki Evans and Ruth Lily of the Oatlands and Pannal Ash Road Safety & Active Travel Campaign, told the Stray Ferret:

“It is shocking and sad to hear Harrogate has one of the highest fatal collision rates in North Yorkshire.

“Given the overwhelming evidence between speed limits and road safety we urge North Yorkshire Council (NYC) to take a proactive approach to delivering improvements across the Harrogate town and the wider area.”

The group said the statistics show the need to reduce speed limits from 30mph to 20mph is “really clear”.

Annual fatal accident statistics 

2019: Six fatal collisions happened in the Harrogate and Scarborough districts which is the highest number within the period – equating to around one every two months.

During the same period, Richmondshire did not report any fatal collisions, while Selby reported just one.

A breakdown of collisions (and the severity) in the Harrogate district. Credit: North Yorkshire Council.

However, the statistics show numbers more than halved in the Harrogate district during the pandemic.

2020: Three fatal incidents happened but in Craven and Selby numbers shot up with six fatal crashes in the same year.

2021 and 2022: After lockdown restrictions lifted, the Harrogate district saw a further seven fatal collisions.

Selby reported another nine during the same period, while Craven and Richmondshire saw just two.

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The number of fatal collisions in the Harrogate district is inconsistent over the four-year period.

Although the Harrogate district has the largest population many people will question why the figure is so much higher than the rest of the county.

Cllr Keane Duncan, North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for highways and transportation, said:

“We take our road safety responsibilities very seriously. Every fatal collision that occurs on our roads network is inspected by an investigation team and, where appropriate, we put in place measures to reduce the risk of further incidents.

“Harrogate is the county’s largest, most heavily populated town, with significant local and through traffic.

“This number of collisions is the result of a variety of factors, including population density and distances travelled.”

The Harrogate district also saw 730 road collisions in total during the period — the highest in North Yorkshire – which accounted for almost a quarter of all collisions across the county.

Mr Duncan added:

“We invest heavily in road safety engineering across North Yorkshire and long-term collision numbers in the county are down.

“We have also recently committed to an ambitious new approach to setting speed limits that will see these reviewed on every inch of the county’s 5,750-mile network. We will soon consult on our most extensive 20mph zone in Pannal Ash and Oatlands.

“We will continue to work with our partners, including the emergency services, in an effort to ensure this downward trend in collisions continues.”

2023 – a bad year 

Throughout 2023, the Stray Ferret has already reported on six fatal collisions in the Harrogate district, meaning this year’s figures have increased again.

Five people died in car crashes on the A61, which runs between Ripon and Harrogate, this year.

A 59-year-old motorcyclist was killed on the A61 on August 29. Officers believe that the motorcyclist was travelling with a group of unknown motorcycles immediately before the collision and he was at the rear of the group.

Just a few days later, three members of a Ukrainian family were killed in a three-vehicle crash that involved a double decker bus on Sunday, September 3. One child was left orphaned.

Most recently, a man in his 90s was hit by a car on the road, near Killinghall, after getting off the 36 bus.

Fatal collisions also happened on Brimham Rocks Road, near Pateley Bridge, North Park Road in Harrogate and the B6265 near Boroughbridge.

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