Letter: Road deaths still on the increase

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The Independent Online
SIR PETER Bottomley ('How we met', Review, 20 June) prides himself on having 'helped cut the (road) casualty rate - in relation to distance travelled - by about 40 per cent'.

At best this is an exaggeration, at worst a lie. Between 1986 and 1990, the road accident casualty rate per 100 million vehicle kilometres fell:

for all motor vehicles from 122 to 105 (14 per cent);

for all vehicles from 129 to 110 (15 per cent);

for cars (Mr Bottomley's main target) from 110 to 100 (9 per cent).

Furthermore, this figure is dependent on an estimate of vehicle-kilometres travelled which changed from 264 billion in 1986 to 331 billion in 1990, a 25 per cent increase. Any conclusion based on an unsubstantiated estimate, I would suggest, especially when the estimate for cars is 23 per cent above that of the Automobile Association, is hardly a reliable benchmark.

Mr Bottomley's campaign targets were primarily car drivers, and what he does not refer to is the increase in car driver casualties from 91,156 in 1986 to 112,848 in 1990, a 24 per cent rise, in spite of the fact that they were safely strapped into ever more driver- protective vehicles. That is statistical fact, not someone's unsubstantiated 'estimate'. The only conclusion to be drawn is that car collisions are increasing in number, rate and severity.

P D Somerville

High Wycombe, Bucks