On the day it published figures which showed a reduction in deaths and injuries on British roads in 2009, the Government is again under pressure not to make cuts in its road safety budget.
With last year's crashes estimated to have cost the British economy £33 billion – through costs to the NHS, emergency services and police, plus higher insurance rates, lost productivity and human costs, as well as damage to property – road safety charity Brake called on the coalition to set challenging new targets to further reduce deaths and injuries.
Campaigns director Julie Townsend said: 'In the current economic climate, we should be seizing every opportunity to reduce the huge social and economic burden of road casualties. There is a wealth of evidence that shows the cost/benefit ratio of investing in effective road safety measures – and yet the Government currently has neither a strategy nor targets in place for saving lives on our roads.'
Their view was echoed by the Institute of Advanced Motorists, whose policy and research director, Neil Greig, said: 'With these positive results, the worst thing to do would be to withdraw funding, and so it is important to carry on this good work.'
According to the government report, in 2009, there were:
• 222,146 reported casualties of all severities (4% lower than in 2008)
• 2,222 people killed (down 12 %)
• 24,690 seriously injured (down 5%)
•195,234 slightly injured (down 4%)
As in 2008, failing to look properly was the most frequently reported factor in accidents – a contributory factor in 38% of all accidents, while four of the five most frequently reported factors involved driver or rider error or reaction.
For fatal accidents, the most frequently reported contributory factor was loss of control, involved in 36% of accidents.
Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at RoSPA, said: 'Failing to look properly is not just a benign bad habit – the latest figures show that it is involved in many thousands of accidents on our roads. However, it is a bad habit that can be overcome. We encourage all drivers and riders to look beyond their learner tests and to take refresher training throughout their lives.'
The report also showed that pedestrians failed to look properly in 58% of accidents in which a pedestrian was injured or killed, and, pedestrian careless, reckless or in a hurry, was reported in 23%.
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