Accident rate alarm bells for road users

A number of areas of concern for all road users have been highlighted in the government’s latest accident figures.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has published new figures as part of its Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: 2012 Annual Report that highlights a number of areas of concern for all road users.

Despite a four per cent reduction in the overall number of reported casualties of all severities last year in comparison to 2011 – 195,723 deaths and injuries in all – there are a number of areas where drivers have been urged to be more wary as a result of a recent spike in accidents.

Drink-driving risks rise

According to the DfT’s data, 280 people died in alcohol-related accidents on the UK’s roads last year – a 17 per cent upturn in fatalities – while a further 1,210 were seriously injured.

In response, Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, the road safety charity, stated the government must now take a zero-tolerance approach to bringing down these numbers, with stronger penalties for offenders and a reduction in the UK drink-drive limit.

“We have the highest drink-drive limit in Europe, and it sends out the dreadful message that a drink or two before driving is acceptable,” she noted.

“Every other country in Europe bar one has decided a lower limit is safer, yet our government rejected the strong recommendations for a tougher approach. We are appealing to Westminster to review that decision in light of today’s figures.”

At present, the drink-drive limit in the UK stands at 35 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, 35 microgrammes per 100 ml of breath or 107 mg per 100 ml of urine. However, Brake wants to see this figure reduced to just 20 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, in line with many other European nations.

Furthermore, the DfT’s own report highlighted the beneficial impact a lower alcohol limit in the UK would have on reducing accident rates, while also providing considerable savings for the national economy.

Watch out for cyclists

Another increasingly important point of concern for motorists, highlighted by the DfT data, was in the rise in the number of cyclists killed on the UK’s roads last year.

Overall, 2012 witnessed a ten per cent increase in cyclist deaths to 118, while the number of people seriously injured while riding grew for the eighth consecutive year to 3,222.

Following an historic win in the Tour de France for Bradley Wiggins last year, the popularity of cycling has skyrocketed across the UK, with more people than ever taking up the pastime.

This, coupled with rising volumes of traffic on the UK’s roads over recent years, may be one contributing factor to this increase in serious accidents, meaning action now needs to be taken to improve cycling safety awareness both for riders and motorists.

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, commented: “We need to redouble our efforts to make sure that cyclist deaths and injuries are reduced as the popularity of cycling increases.

“It is vital to create a coherent safe network for cyclists by introducing appropriate cycle lanes, linking quieter streets, developing routes alongside rivers, canals and through parks where possible, and introducing more 20 mph schemes in our towns and cities.”

He added more training for cyclists would also be highly beneficial, as this would ensure all individuals who take to the roads on two wheels are aware of the dangers they face and act in a more responsible and safer manner as a result.

Tyre safety dangers

A final area of concern for road users revealed in these latest results is that of the ongoing risks posed by faulty or worn tyres.

Despite a five per cent fall in the number of individuals killed or seriously injured as a result of accidents caused by dangerous, illegal or under-inflated tyres to 194 people in 2012, vehicle safety charity TyreSafe has stated now is not the time for road users to become complacent regarding this issue.

Stuart Jackson, chairman of TyreSafe, concluded: “As the latest figures show, driving on illegal or dangerous tyres can result in paying the ultimate price. Regular tyre checks only take a brief moment yet they could be the most rewarding few minutes you ever spend.”


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Accident rate alarm bells for road users
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