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Road Safety across the UK

There is a dramatic difference in the progress made in cutting death and injury on the roads across the UK over the past five years. While the general trend has been downwards this has masked big national and regional variations, the RAC Foundation has claimed.

Compared with the 2005-9 average (the Government’s baseline for monitoring progress) by 2013 there had been the following reductions in the number of people killed or seriously injured:

  • London -36%
  • Northern Ireland -35%
  • Scotland -33%
  • UK AVERAGE -23%
  • England (excluding London) -19%
  • Wales -15%

While highlighting the dramatic differences between areas, the figures hide a flattening out of the overall downward trend with the most dramatic casualty reduction in this period seen in 2010, says the RAC Foundation.

While car occupant safety has improved markedly, the situation amongst vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists) has been less good. Although deaths in this group have declined they are now a larger proportion of all road deaths, rising from 46% in 2005-9 to 49% in 2013. The absolute number of cyclists seriously injured has risen.

“The UK risks breaking apart in terms of road safety policy with different administrations having varying levels of power, funding and political will to deal with death and injury on the highways,” commented Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation.

“Overall, many fewer people were killed and injured on the roads at the end of the last Westminster parliament than at the beginning,” he added. “But given the flattening out of casualty figures, a probable increase in casualties in 2014 and a predicted increase in road traffic, it is important that national, regional and local Governments review these trends, and share best practice to learn what is, and what isn’t, working around.”

“Tens of millions of road users have a right to know that that their safety is regarded equally wherever in the UK they travel,” he concluded. “They would also expect similar rules to apply whichever side of a border they are on.”

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