The number of people killed on roads in the first half of 2011 rose by 6.7% compared with the same period in 2010, according to provisional figures published last week by the DfT (Press Association).
There were 940 deaths on British roads in the first six months of 2011 compared with 881 in 2010. In contrast, there was a slight drop in the number of total casualties (KSIs) – from 100,383 in the first half of last year to 98,580 in the first half of 2011.
While the rise in the first quarter of 2011 was attributed to bad weather keeping many people off the roads in Jan-March 2010, the 7% increase in the second quarter gives more cause for concern according to Andrew Howard, the AA’s head of road safety. Robert Gifford, executive director of PACTS, described the figures as ‘sounding alarm bells for ministers’.
The provisional figures show that there were 500 deaths in April-June 2011 – a 7% rise on the figure of 467 for the same period last year. At the same time there was 1% less traffic on the roads during the spring 2011 period than in April-June 2010.
While pedestrian, motorcyclist and car occupant casualties were down, cyclist casualties increased by 5%.
Robert Gifford, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, said: “While we should be careful about drawing too strong a conclusion from two quarters, this nevertheless should sound alarm bells for ministers.
“The rise in deaths occurred at a time when the economy continued to flatline. While some of the overall fall in deaths over the last few years was related to the recession, this rise suggests that the key messages about safe road use are having less effect among road users.”
Andrew Howard, the AA’s head of road safety, said: "The rise in deaths in the first quarter of 2011 was, at least, understandable, as the awful weather in January-March 2010 kept people off the roads. But the rise in the second quarter of this year is of much greater concern.
"I am alarmed about this upward turn. It seems that cuts to road maintenance and road safety budgets and to traffic policing are beginning to bite."
Mike Penning, road safety minister, defended the Government’s record, saying: “Britain has some of the safest roads in the world and year-on-year comparisons show that road deaths continue to fall.
"The number of people killed and injured on the roads in 2010 was particularly low and the most recent quarterly figures reflect the general downward trend of the last few years.
“However, any fatality is a tragedy and reducing road deaths remains a top priority for us. That is why we taking forward measures to crack down on the most dangerous drivers while improving the driver training and testing process to make our roads safer for everyone.”
Click here to read the full Press Association news report.
Click here to read the full Telegraph news report.
Click here to find the statistics on the DfT website.