Road casualties in the UK have fallen - but people are still being killed or seriously injured by easily preventable causes, such as not looking properly.
These are the findings of a new report ('Road Casualties Great Britain 2006: Annual Report'), published by the Department for Transport (DfT) today.
The DfT says there has been a 33% reduction of average deaths and serious injuries compared with the average from 1994-1998, despite a 15% increase in traffic.
'Basic errors' still killing road users
Despite the good news about the overall reduction in fatalities, motoring organisations are warning about the danger of becoming complacent.
Sheila Rainger, a spokesperson for the RAC said: 'It is not acceptable that over one-third of accidents are caused by the basic error of 'failing to look properly'.'
Accidents like these are not restricted to only one section of road users - pedal cyclists and HGV drivers are the two most likely groups to be involved in an accident as a result of a lack of observation, making up 48% of road users involved in such accidents.
Loss of control is cited as the major cause of fatal accidents, being blamed for 35% of incidents.
Different solutions to these high percentages have been proposed by motoring groups, with the RAC suggesting: 'A return to enforcement by expert traffic police, not cameras and CCTV, would bring safety benefits.'
The RAC also wants more training. 'Education and road safety training must start while children are still young,' a spokesman said. Last year, the number of child pedestrians killed rose by 13%.
Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: 'These are things that refresher training can help motorists to overcome.
'Even when a crash was not directly a driver's fault, better skills behind the wheel may have helped to avoid the accident.'
Drink-driving deaths fall
The number of people killed or seriously injured as a result of drink-driving has fallen by 4% in comparison to 2005.
Fatalities fell from 580 in 2004 to 540 in 2006, but this is still an increase on the 460 deaths in 1998.
Other results from the report show that:
• 6% of all road casualties (14,350) occurred when someone was driving while over the legal alcohol limit;
• Alcohol accounted for 17% of all road deaths (540 fatalities);
• There was a 5% increase from 2005 in the amount of motorcyclists killed;
• Motorcyclists are most likely to be involved in an accident with another road user who failed to look properly;
• 85% of hit-and-run accidents occurred in built-up areas;
• Over a fifth of fatal hit-and-run accidents occurred between midnight and 4am.
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