UK road deaths fall to record low

Crash scene The number of UK road deaths has fallen to a new low

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The number of people killed on British roads last year reached a record low, according to government statistics.

Some 2,222 people were killed on Britain's roads in 2009, 12% down on the 2008 figure and the lowest annual total since records began in 1926.

The highest recorded post-war annual total was nearly 8,000 in 1966.

But road safety charity Brake warned that the reporting of accidents was flawed, saying that there were often gaps in hospital statistics.

Department for Transport statistics, based on casualties in accidents reported to police, showed that, in accidents reported to the police, 26,096 people were killed or seriously injured on Britain's roads in 2009 - 6% fewer than the previous year.

Meanwhile, child deaths on the roads fell sharply last year - from 124 in 2008 to 81 in 2009.

The total number of casualties last year, including slight injuries, was just over 222,000 - 4% down on the 2008 total.

And those seriously injured in accidents reported to the police fell by 6% to 10,053, while total reported casualties among car users were 4% down at 143,412.

Compulsory seatbelts, drink-drive crackdowns and traffic calming measures are thought to have been responsible for the gradual reduction in the annual death toll in recent decades.

'Bold strategy'

However, Brake argued that the system used to collate the figures was flawed.

It said: "Gaps in reporting highlighted by hospital statistics put the achievement of the 'killed and seriously injured' target in doubt."

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The big question now is whether cuts in expenditure will affect the safety effort”

End Quote Edmund King AA President

Ellen Booth, the charity's campaigns officer, said the government's road safety strategy and targets were "a step in the right direction" but added "all too often crucial road safety action has been undermined".

"There have been too many missed opportunities to save lives in the past decade. Every death is a tragedy so this is no time for congratulations," she said, adding that there was a need for "a bold strategy that spells out the importance of investing in road safety, despite government cuts".

Similarly, AA president Edmund King said: "The big question now is whether cuts in expenditure will affect the safety effort.

"We would urge government, at all levels, to ensure that those measures which prevent death and injury on the roads are maintained and developed even in these difficult financial times. Ultimately, saving lives saves money."

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