Last week the Government released statistics showing the number of people killed or seriously injured on Britain’s roads increased in 2011. This is the first increase in 17 years and comes as councils make huge cuts to road safety budgets. Coincidence?
Road deaths went up by three percent and serious injuries increased by two percent compared with the previous year. To put that in real terms, 51 more people were killed and a further 462 seriously injured.
And yet, last year local councils made cuts of 15 percent (£23 million) to their road safety budget compared to average spending cuts of just six percent for other council services. Why do they think road safety can be sacrificed to this extent?
These results show they surely can’t.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists Chief Executive, Simon Best, said: “It is concerning that road deaths and serious injuries rose last year. Road accidents usually drop during an economic recession, so this rise after continuous reductions over the last ten years, is particularly concerning.”
He continued: “Ministers should take this as a serious warning. Cutting road safety education and reductions in local authority spending all suggest that road safety isn’t a major priority for this government. We need targets on reducing casualties for local councils so that performance can be checked. This would help make sure that councils look at new and innovative ways to save lives on our roads.”
What concerns us is it’s the most vulnerable road users who are suffering: on foot, 48 more people were killed in 2011 compared with 2010, and 254 more seriously injured. For cyclists, deaths and serious injuries have been increasing for the past four years – you’ll remember the mass cyclist protest across London and Edinburgh in April this year.
In other areas of society, the most vulnerable are given the most protection – why not on our roads?
As road safety charity Brake says: road safety measures are an investment, not an economic drain. Not only do they prevent costly crashes and casualties, they prevent the devastation to people’s lives road accidents cause.
Written by: Anthony Hobbs
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