‘Government must act on rise in road deaths’

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is urging greater collaboration with government on road safety following the publication of annual casualty figures which show the first increase in road deaths since 2003.

The detailed figures for 2011 for Great Britain show that road deaths rose by three per cent from 1,850 in 2010 to 1,901 in 2011.

Child deaths rose by nine per cent from 55 in 2010 to 60 in 2011, which is particularly disappointing given that the two previous years showed substantial reductions in child deaths.

The number of seriously injured children fell by four per cent to 2,352 in 2011. At 19,474, the overall number of child casualties (killed, seriously injured and slightly injured) barely changed between 2010 and 2011.

There were 453 pedestrian deaths in 2011, a rise of 12 per cent from 2010 and the number of seriously injured pedestrians increased by five per cent to 5,454.

The number of cyclists killed fell by four per cent from 111 in 2010 to 107 in 2011 despite the increasing number of cyclists on the road.

However, seriously injured cyclists increased by 16 per cent to 3,085, emphasising that we must find ways to make the roads safer for cyclists, through a combination of road designs that make cycling safer and better education and training for both motorists and cyclists.

A welcome 10 per cent fall in motorcyclist deaths to 362 was accompanied by a disappointing 10 per cent increase in serious injuries to 5,247 and an eight per cent increase in overall motorcyclist casualties.

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at RoSPA, said: “These figures must be taken as an opportunity to revise the way we work to make roads safer. It is a chance for road safety professionals and the new ministerial team at the Department for Transport to come together and discuss the way forward.

“While we appreciate that the government has tough funding decisions to make, we must now do more to arrest and reverse the number of people being killed or hurt on our roads.

“Now is the time to drop the proposal to increase the motorway speed limit to 80mph, and the decision not to set casualty reduction targets in the Government’s ‘Strategic Framework for Road Safety’.

“The drink-drive limit should be lowered from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg (in line with the proposed changes in Scotland & Northern Ireland), and government, the insurance industry and road safety bodies should work together to make the best use of black box technology in vehicles, especially to help young drivers and at-work drivers.”