Road deaths fall to record low

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The Independent Online

Motoring and safety groups today welcomed Government confirmation that annual road deaths had reached an all-time low.

Provisional figures last June showed that 1,857 people died in British road accidents reported to the police in 2010.

Today's final figures revealed that deaths last year had in fact fallen even further - to 1,850, which was a huge 17% reduction on the 2009 total.

Serious injuries, at 22,660, were 8% down, while total casualties (deaths and serious and slight injuries) fell 6% to 208,648.

AA president Edmund King said the reduced death figure was "a massive achievement".

But he warned that with Government cuts there was no certainty that the reductions would continue.

Concerns were also expressed by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (Pacts) and by road safety charity Brake.

While welcoming the reductions, Pacts said casualties reported to the police were "almost certainly an underestimate of the real number of people injured".

Brake said it was "desperately worried that this trend of falling casualties is under threat" as a result of cuts.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said the low death toll was "a fantastic achievement" but added that milder winters and an economic upturn could threaten further reductions.

Road Safety Minister Mike Penning said: "This record fall in road deaths is excellent news. Fewer people are dying on our roads than at any point since records began and the dedication of road safety professionals and emergency services across the country as well as improvements in vehicle safety have played an important role in achieving this.

"But five people still die on the roads every day and improving road safety remains a priority.

"That is why we are taking steps to make it easier for the police to enforce against drink- and drug-driving as well as looking at how we can improve cycle safety."