TODAY The Bolton News reveals the causes behind the hundreds of crashes on Bolton’s roads ­- and the biggest cause is not what you might think. Saiqa Chaudhari reports.

SPEEDING and drink driving is a huge problem on the roads.

But surprisingly they account for just a small fraction of smashes on Bolton’s roads, according to an investigation by The Bolton News.

­Using Department of Transport data we’ve been able to break down the causes of all reported accidents where a police officer attended the scene in every authority in the country.

This Is Lancashire:

An accident can have more than one cause and a total of 667 causes were recorded in Bolton in last full year of statistics ­- the highest number of causes outside of Manchester city. This was nearly double Bury’s figure, which stood at 336, with Salford’s number at 518.

The number of collisions in Bolton in 2018 - the latest figures available - stood at 435.

But only 15 collisions were due to speeding, with the majority of serious accidents being caused by drivers failing to look properly. This was blamed for 114 accidents.

The next biggest cause of accidents was motorists failing to judge the other person’s ‘path or speed” ­- 51 times.

The Department for Transport categorised 78 different factors said to play a part in road collisions, ranging from poor or defective road surface, following too close and even a vehicle travelling along a pavement ­- the latter being held responsible for causing two accidents.

This Is Lancashire:

They are recorded in the form used by police to report contributory factors.

The 78 factors fall into nine categories ­- road environment; vehicle defects; injudicious action; driver/rider error or reaction; impairment or distraction; behaviour or inexperience; vision affected by external factors; pedestrian-only factors and special codes.

Poor manoeuvres accounted for 50 smashes, and loss of control caused 16 accidents.

Under the influence of drugs or alcohol was listed as a cause in 20 collisions ­- down by five on the previous year.

Aggressive driving caused 18 accidents and drivers in a hurry caused 46 accidents.

Two collisions were caused by drivers using mobile phones at the wheel, same as the year before.

And nervous or panic behind the wheel was said to be a cause in nine accidents.

A breakdown of 2018 figures show that stolen vehicles caused seven accidents and a poor or defective road surface was a factor in three collisions.

Fifteen were caused by drivers ignoring traffic lights and other signals or not giving way or stopping.

A total of 11 were caused by slippery road conditions caused by the weather, with rain, sleet or fog causing seven

This Is Lancashire:

Pedestrians also caused a number of accidents on the road. Forty-seven accidents were caused by members of the public not looking properly when crossing the road, with 18 failing to judge a vehicle’s speed or path.

Six were blamed for being under the influence and 16 pedestrians caused a collision because they were in a hurry.

A Bolton Council spokesman said: “We are committed to ensuring our roads are safe for everyone and reducing the number of deaths and injuries on our roads.

“This includes steps to help children understand the dangers near roads ­- we have a really successful programme of road safety ambassadors in primary schools across the borough.

“These figures clearly highlight that driver error is one of the main causes of crashes on our roads.

“We try to mitigate the impact of driver error and have undertaken major junction improvement works, with more schemes planned.

“Drivers can also reduce their chances of crashing by ensuring they stick well within the speed limit, taking more time to look carefully at junctions, and giving the road their full attention at all times.”

Motorists can improve their driving skills by signing up to take part in an advanced drivers course ­- IAM RoadSmart, formerly the Institute of Advanced Motorists. The group offers free taster sessions.

For more information visit https://www.iamroadsmart.com/groups/boltonam