Safer streets for cyclists

NEW SPEED LIMITS ON WAY TO CUT ROAD CASUALTIES

091002 SEP 99

By Peter Woodman, Transport Correspondent, PA News

Further measures to reduce road casualties - including new speed limits, driving standards and vehicle design - will be announced by the Government this autumn, it was announced today.

The commitment was made today by Transport Minister Lord Whitty as encouraging 1998 accident figures were revealed.

They show Britain now has the lowest rate of road deaths among other major industrialised countries.

Today's figures gave more flesh to "bare bone" statistics first published in June, which showed that deaths on the roads fell last year to 3,421 - the lowest since records began in 1926.

But while deaths and serious injuries are falling in line with tough government targets, the number of slight injuries still causes concern.

The present Labour administration inherited from the last Tory government a target of reducing all road casualties by a third by the year 2000 compared with a baseline average of casualties in the period 1981-85.

The target for deaths was reached in 1994 and for serious injuries in 1992.

However, the figures for 1998 show that slight injuries are still 16% above the 1981-85 average. This means that the overall average for all kinds of injury is still 1% above the 2000 target figure.

More encouragingly, there was better news about child deaths. The number of children killed and seriously injured in road accidents fell 6% last year.

Lord Whitty said the 5% fall in overall fatal and serious injuries last year showed that "substantial progress was being made".

While pleased with the drop in child fatalities, he said this was an area "where we lag behind the rest of Europe".

Lord Whitty went on: "Later this year we intend to publish our new, comprehensive strategy to reduce casualties still further over the next 10 years.

"That strategy will cover driving standards, speed limits, infrastructure, vehicle design, pedestrian protection, cycling and motorcycle safety, as well as enforcement and penalties and publicity and education."

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