UK tops European road safety league, but for how long?
Speed camera switch-offs may threaten recent KSI reductions say police
The Institute of Advanced Motorists, which, in addition to car drivers and motorcyclists, now embraces cyclists as members, this week claimed Britain has the safest roads in Europe.
As previously reported here on road.cc, 2222 people died on British roads in 2009, of whom 104 were cyclists, representing 4.6% of the total. Across the European Union, cyclists' deaths represent on average 6% of the total road fatalities according to the SafetyNet (2009) Pedestrians & Cyclists report, which was part-funded by the European Comission. So it could be argued that Britain is a safer than average place for cyclists.
However, in total there were 17,064 reported cycling casualties in Britain last year, the majority were slightly injured, but as well as the 104 killed another 2606 were seriously injured, representing a 6% rise on the 2008 figure. More than 80% of cyclists killed or seriously injured (KSI) last year were male, compared with around 60% of pedestrians and car occupants and 90% of motorcyclists.
While the diminution in both overall and cyclist death numbers is to be welcomed, voices are increasingly being raised expressing serious misgivings about cuts to road safety funding which is resulting in speed cameras being switched off.
On Thursday, Wiltshire switched off its entire speed camera network which was run by the Wiltshire and Swindon Safety Camera Partnership with the police providing the staff and Wiltshire Council and Swindon Borough Council providing the funding.
Road safety observers will be closely monitoring the figures for deaths and serious injuries on the roads in those parts of the UK where speed cameras have been switched off, while police forces have already expressed their disquiet about such moves.
The Association of Chief Police Officers' lead of roads policing, chief constable Mick Giannasi, said: “The police service believes that the use of safety cameras has been a cornerstone of the success in reducing death and injuries on our roads and many lives have been saved since the introduction of speed cameras.
“They are an effective way of making drivers reduce their speed and drive more safely while penalising those who don't.
“Keeping people safe on our roads requires a concerted campaign, based on a variety of tactics to prevent irresponsible people from causing death and injury. Safety cameras are a vital part of that campaign.”