Rise in road deaths revealed

CHRISTIAN WOLMAR

Transport Correspondent

Road deaths are set to show the first increase since 1989, after figures released yesterday revealed that 2,614 people had died in the first nine months of last year, compared with 2,601 in the same period in 1994.

The number of deaths in 1994, a total of 3,653, were the lowest since the Twenties and ministers had hoped that there would be a continued decrease.The Government aims by 2000 to have reduced by one-third the annual number of casualties recorded on the roads during the early Eighties.

While the numbers killed and seriously injured have gone down already by more than one-third, there has been an increase in overall casualties of around 4 per cent since the early Eighties.

The figures for the first three-quarters of 1995 show that the number of seriously injured on the road has gone down slightly from 33,663 in 1994 to 33,247 in 1995, a drop of 1 per cent. The number of minor injuries remained almost exactly the same at 191,487 compared with 191,501 the previous year.

The Government appears to be so embarrassed by the upturn in deaths that it has issued press releases implying there has been no rise. The one published yesterday was headed by "road deaths show little change in the third quarter of 1995" when in fact there has been a 3 per cent increase in that quarter compared with the same period in the previous year. In years when there have been similar decreases, the press releaseshave reflected this by boasting of 2 per cent or 3 per cent reductions.

A Department of Transport spokesman said that material was presented in order to convince people that "their individual actions in driving more safely were worthwhile".

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