North-south divide in road death rates

* Road deaths at a record low * But 20% rises recorded in south * Merseyside shows greatest fall in deaths...

North-south divide in road death rates

Road deaths have fallen to a record low but rates vary dramatically between regions.

The number of people killed on Britains roads last year was 2943, according to Department for Transport figures. That is the lowest figure since records began in 1926.

However, death rates show marked regional variations. Deaths on the roads in Gwent, Cambridgeshire, Wiltshire and Devon and Cornwall have increased by 20% or more since 2003.

However, in Merseyside, Lancashire, Cheshire and Humberside they have fallen by more than 20% over the same period.

The variations are said to reflect the priority individual police departments put on road safety. That has lead to criticism that emphasis should be taken off headline-grabbing initiatives such as drug and knife crime and onto road safety.

Merseyside has had the greatest success in bringing down the number of road deaths since 2003, recording a 55% fall.