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Thursday, 14 November

Government Blamed for Rising Road Casualties

Two organisations involved with road safety have accused the government of complacency and poor funding for an increase in injuries and deaths on the UK’s highways.

The criticism comes from road safety charity, Brake, and the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) particularly scathing of the current coalition government’s lack of action 

Brake has expressed ‘dismay’ at an increase in road casualties announced this week (Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: Quarterly Provisional Estimates Q3 2014 – Department of Transport) and is demanding that all political parties commit to three ‘vital’ road safety policies, especially to protect pedestrians, cyclists, children and young people. The figures show that deaths and serious injuries on UK roads increased by 4% in the year ending September 2014, with deaths up by 1%.

In total, 1,730 people were killed and 22,630 seriously injured on UK roads in the year ending September 2014, up from 1,711 deaths and 21,728 serious injuries in the previous year. Casualties of all severities are also up by 5%, from 184,087 to 192,910.

Casualties are up for all types of road user, with child and cyclist casualties of particular concern. Child deaths and serious injuries increased by 3% to 2,060, with casualties of all severities up by 6% to 16,640; this is the first rise in rolling year comparisons for 20 years. Cyclist deaths and serious injuries increased 8% to 3,500.

“It is disappointing that after many years of solid falls in the numbers of people killed and injured on our roads, the government has taken its eye off the ball,” said Neil Greig, Director, policy and research. “These figures reflect our view that cuts in visible policing and road safety spending has had an impact, with a third successive quarter of increases. We have had pretty much two decades of falls in the killed/seriously injured (KSI) figures, and while these new figures can in no way be regarded as a trend, they are a big concern.”

For its part, Brake is calling on all political parties make the following commitments:

  • Change the default urban speed limit to 20mph to protect people on foot and bike, ‘and allow everyone to walk and cycle without fear’. 
  • Introduce graduated driver licensing, to allow new drivers to build skills and experience gradually while exposed to less danger. 
  • Introduce a zero tolerance drink drive limit of 20mg per 100ml of blood

“These casualty increases are the tragic result of a failure of ambition,” accused Julie Townsend, Deputy CEO, Brake. “They come on the back of three years of flat lining road death and serious injury figures, during which the government congratulated itself on having ‘some of the safest roads in the world’, rather than making forward thinking decisions and setting targets to secure further reductions.”

 IAM also blames what it sees as cuts in ‘visible’ policing and road safety spending as having had an impact, with the third successive quarter of increases. “The government has been ‘riding its luck’ to an extent, and that the recession has played its part in artificially making the figures seem better than they really are,” stated Mr Greig. “Recent transport ministers have been lucky. The recession had slowed traffic growth, new car technology has delivered safer roads year on year and most accident black spots have now been engineered out of existence."

Picture: The latest road casualties’ figure shows casualties of all severities are up by 5%, from 184,087 to 192,910.

Article written by Mike Gannon

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