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Road deaths on the rise
Road deaths have risen for the first time in nearly a decade, according to new government figures out today.
Amongst the worst affected groups are pedestrians and cyclists, which both saw the biggest rises in the numbers killed or seriously injured on Britain’s roads.
Annual casualty figures for 2011 published by the Department for Transport show road deaths in Great Britain rose from 1,850 in 2010, to 1,901 in 2011 – an increase of 3%. The number of people killed on the roads had been following a downward trend since 2003, making the latest figures particularly eye-opening.
But the combined figure which takes into account the number killed or seriously injured has also risen, by 2% from 24,510 in 2010, to 25,023 last year; which is the first rise in the overall figure for 18 years.
The disturbing new statistics have led to a united voice from safety charities RoSPA and the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) – who have both hit out at government spending policies leading to cuts in local authority road safety and road policing budgets.
“It is unacceptable that road deaths and serious injuries rose last year, particularly for pedestrians and cyclists who saw the greatest rises. Road accidents usually drop during an economic recession, so this rise after continuous reductions over the last ten years, is particularly concerning.
“Ministers should take this as a serious warning. Cutting road safety education, scrapping casualty targets, and reductions in local authority spending all suggest that road safety isn’t a major priority for this government,” said IAM chief executive Simon Best.
Child deaths on Britain’s roads in 2011 were also up by 9% from 55 in 2010, to 60 in 2011. That marks a concerning reversal in trends compared to the two previous years, both of which saw substantial falls in the numbers of children killed on Britain’s roads.
Perhaps reflecting the increasing number of cyclists on the roads, numbers seriously injured rose from 2,660 to 3,085 in 2011 – an increase of 16%, although fatalities dropped marginally to 107 (from 111 in 2010).
But pedestrians fared the worst, with fatalities increasing by the biggest margin: from 405 in 2010 to 453 last year; an increase of 12 per cent.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is urging a renewed focus on road safety: “After a long period of deaths falling year on year, we are very disturbed that they have risen, particularly among children and pedestrians.
“We are concerned that this may be the end of the downwards trend in people being killed on our roads because this is the first time that annual road deaths have risen since 2003 and follows three years where deaths reduced by several hundred per year.
“RoSPA is concerned that reduced public spending on road safety, especially cuts to local authority and road policing budgets, may be partly to blame. The Government and the road safety profession need to urgently get together to understand why road deaths have now started to rise,” said Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at RoSPA.
A recent report from the IAM found that road safety was amongst the biggest casualties of local council austerity measures last year, with £23 million (15%) slashed from council road safety budgets across England in 2011 – compared to average cuts of six per cent in other areas. That’s seen services like rehabilitation courses for motoring offenders, safe routes to schools schemes and school crossing patrols either axed or severely cut back by many local authorities.
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