More than 520,000 injuries caused by road accidents, as much as 90,000 of which are serious, go unreported each year, according to figures revealed by the Department for Transport.
The figures came to light in response to a parliamentary question tabled by Labour MP and chair of the transport select committee, Louise Ellman, on Wednesday (11 January).
Responding to the question on the estimate of serious and slight injuries that were unreported to the police in the last three years, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport Andrew Jones said there was a range. Between 2011-15, he said the estimate of unreported serious injuries was somewhere between 30,000-90,000 per year, while the figure for slight injuries was between 380,000-540,000 per year.
Speaking to the Telegraph, director of motoring charity the RAC Foundation, cast some doubt on the numbers and added accidents causing the worst injuries were likely to be reported.
He said: "The biggest cracks come at the other end of the spectrum where cuts, bruises and sore necks go unreported. However, the validity of some of these injuries must be questionable, not least many of the 1,500 whiplash claims which the insurance industry deals with daily and is working with the government to reduce."
The estimates were compiled on the basis of responses to the National Travel Survey and data captured by the survey over a period of five years. The department stressed that the figures were subject to "considerable uncertainty".
The figures quoted in the answer where relatively consistent between 2009-2015, with a slight increase in the data set for 2010-14 compared to 2009-13 and 2011-15. The Department said, however, this was most likely to reflect a sampling error rather than the number of injuries. The number of reported injuries due to road accidents in the UK in 2015 was 186,209 of which 22,137 were serious, representing an 11% decrease in the total number since 2010, according to Government statistics.
According to the same statistics, the most "vulnerable road user groups" were motorcyclists and cyclists. Motorcyclists accounted for the vast majority of road fatalities in 2015, with a fatality rate of 122.3 per billion miles travelled, with cyclists accounting for just 30.9 – slightly lower than pedestrians at 35.8.
Meanwhile, the number of injuries between the two groups were much higher at 6,761 per billion miles travelled for motorcyclists compared to 5,824 for cyclists.