Road deaths rise to five-year high

Road deaths rise to five-year high
Road deaths rise to five-year high

The number of people killed in accidents on Britain’s roads has reached a five-year high.

A total of 1,792 people died last year – a four per cent increase on 2015 and the highest annual total since 2011.

The increase was revealed in the Department for Transport’s (DfT) annual report on road casualties, which also showed a nine per cent increase in the number seriously injured, although this is partly down to changes in reporting.

The report said that the increase in fatalities was not statistically significant and could be put down to “natural variations” in deaths over time but motoring groups and safety campaigners have urged the Government to redouble its efforts to improve road safety.

‘More to be done’

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “Every road user, and certainly all of those working to improve road safety, will view today’s figures with dismay. Road fatalities in Great Britain are now higher than at any time in the last five years. While the statisticians say the rise isn’t significant, every life lost on our roads is surely one too many.

“The report clearly states that ‘there is unlikely to be as large falls in casualties as there were earlier on without further significant interventions.’ This is surely an admission that more could, and should, be done to save lives.”

At the same time as fatalities increased, traffic levels rose 2.2 per cent but Pete Williams dismissed this as an excuse for the rise in deaths.

“Simply because there is more traffic on our roads does not mean that we should accept that road deaths will inevitably go up.

“Away from government a lot organisations are working hard to improve road safety. These can all have a tangible impact on future road casualty numbers, but there is absolutely no question that the Government needs to redouble its efforts to ensure that progress is once again made to bring road deaths down.”

The DfT report shows that almost half of the increase was down to more deaths in Scotland – up from 162 in 2015 to 191 in 2016 – and that the greatest increase in casualties (53 per cent) was reported on roads with a 20mph limit. However, the report attributes this partly to the introduction of more 20mph zones in urban areas.

Rural roads continued to account for around half of all fatalities (51 per cent) but the majority (70 per cent) of non-fatal accidents occurred in built-up areas. Motorways accounted for just five per cent of all casualties.

Lessons to be learned

Commenting on the report, Jason Wakeford, director of campaigns for road safety charity Brake, said: “[These] figures graphically illustrate the daily carnage taking place on roads across Britain. On average, five people continue to lose their lives each and every day – a deeply worrying figure which has not improved for some six years.

“Progress on road safety has stalled, pressing the need for a road collision investigation branch, similar to those already in existence for air, rail and sea, so that lessons can be learned to prevent future crashes. Only through in-depth investigation, at a national level, can solutions be found to stem the needless deaths on the roads every day.”

Brake also repeated its calls for a review of rural speed limits and for voluntary intelligent speed adaptation systems to be fitted to all new cars.

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