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Govt stats say Britain's roads now safest in world

Road deaths drop to record low, cycling casualties slightly up, National Audit Office

Deaths on British roads reached a record low last year dropping from 2,946 people killed to 2,538, a 14 per cent reduction and a record low. According to Transport Minister, Lord Adonis these figures show that Britain now has the joint safest roads in the developed world.

The Department for Transport statistics released today show that In percentage terms cyclists and motorcyclists were the groups which showed the biggest percentage drop in the number of deaths – down 15 and 16 per cent respectively. The number of cyclists killed dropped from 136 in 2007 to 115 in 2008.

However, both the overall reported casualty figures for cyclists and the numbers reported seriously injured were both up 1 per cent on the previous year at 16,297 and 2,450 respectively. The corresponding figure for motorcyclists was down by 8 per cent to 21,549 for overall casualties and 10 per cent for those killed or seriously injured – 6,048.

The overall figure for reported pedestrian casualties was down 6 per cent to 28,481, 571 pedestrians were killed in 2008 an 11 per cent reduction on the previous year. Even though more children died on Britain's roads in 2008 the overall reported child casualty figures were down 8 per cent to 2,807 of which 1,784 were pedestrians.

In total there were 170,500 road accidents involving personal injury reported to the police last year with 25,457 of these involving death or serious injury.

Commenting on the figures Transport Secretary Lord Adonis said: "Every death on the roads is a terrible tragedy, but these figures show that every day last year one less person died on the roads than in 2007 and that Britain now jointly has the safest roads of any major nation in the world.

"While this news is encouraging, seven people are still dying on the roads every day and we will continue to do everything we can to prevent these tragedies."

The figures for 2008 mean that the Government has met the 10 year target it set itself in 2000 for reducing death and serious injury on Britain's roads ahead of schedule. Three key targets were set:

  • 40% reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured in road accidents compared with the average for 1994-98;
  • 50% reduction in the number of children killed or seriously injured;
  • 10% reduction in the slight casualty rate, expressed as the number of people slightly injured per 100 million vehicle kilometres.

According to the DfT figures released today n 2008, the number of people killed or seriously injured was 40 per cent below the 1994-98 average; the number of children killed or seriously injured was 59 per cent below the 1994-98 average; and provisional estimates show the slight casualty rate was 36 per cent below the 1994-98 average.

However, the Government's record on road safety is not blemish free. Earlier this year the Government was taken to task by the Audit Commission in its report 'Improving road safety for pedestrians and cyclists in Great Britain' which pointed out that while the overall casualty figures amongst road users were going down those for more vulnerable road users: children, pedestrians, and cyclists were not falling at anything like the same rate as for motorists and that vulnerable road users were as a result being let down.

Recently the European Road Assessment Programme rated over half of Britain's A roads as either neutral for safety or poor while The Campaign for Safe Road Design claims that 10,000 deaths or serious injuries could be prevented over 10 years with better road marking, signage and different designs for kerbs and street furniture.

Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.

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