Letter: Mean streets

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John Windsor asks if the extensive use of traffic cones can have anything to do with the drop in British road deaths to below 4000 last year ("At King Cone's Court", Sunday Review, 8 January 1995).

The answer is a very definite no. Insurance claims indicate that the crash rate of British drivers is actually rising. The apparent paradox that more crashes equals fewer deaths can be explained by three factors. Firstly, new developments such as side-impact bars and air bags mean that cars provide greater protection for their occupants than previously. Secondly, advances in modern medicine provide crash survivors with better chances of survival. Thirdly, walking and cycling are massively in decline in the UK, which mean that there are far fewer pedestrians and cyclists around for drivers to kill.

No-one should be fooled for a moment into thinking that Britain's roads are getting safer. Robert Davis's book Death on the Streets: Cars and the Mythology of Road Safety (Leading Edge, 1993) provides an exemplary study of the reality behind the carnage.

Dr R Binns The Pedestrians Association