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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 June, 2004, 16:05 GMT 17:05 UK
Death toll on UK roads increasing
Speed limit and camera sign
Campaigners say the government must spend more on road safety
The number of people killed on Britain's roads increased last year, according to government figures.

The Department for Transport said 3,508 people died in road accidents in 2003 - 77 (2%) more people than in 2002.

Road safety minister David Jamieson said child and pedestrian casualties had been cut - but there had been a big jump in motorcycle deaths.

Road safety charity Brake accused the government of prioritising rhetoric over real funding to make roads safer.

The news comes less than two weeks after Prime Minister Tony Blair told MPs speed cameras in accident hotspots prevented about 900 deaths and serious injuries a year.

Motorcyclists: 693 deaths - a 14% rise from 2002
Car users: 1,769 deaths - a 1% increase
Pedestrians: 774 killed - no significant change
Children: 171 fatalities - a 4% fall from 2002
Pedal cyclists: 114 deaths - a 12% drop

Despite the rise in deaths, Thursday's figures show a 6% fall in the overall number of people killed or seriously injured in 2003.

The total number of casualties, including minor injuries, was 290,607 - a 4% drop compared to 2002.

Mr Jamieson said the government needed to find out why more people were being killed despite a fall in the number of casualties overall.

He said: "Deaths have gone up particularly on minor and non-built up roads.

Motorcycle campaign

"We need to look carefully at what is causing these accidents, and particularly at why the results are so severe, so that we can work more effectively to address the root causes."

Mr Jamieson said a motorcycling safety campaign would run later this month with the aim of reducing the number of motorcyclists killed.

The fatality rate rose by 14% in 2003 compared to the previous year while motorcycle journeys increased by 6%.

The horrendous loss of life should make road safety a political priority but instead it is always on the back burner
Mary Williams
Chief executive of Brake
He welcomed drops of 8% and 6% respectively in the total numbers of child and pedestrian casualties.

The number of children killed in 2003 was 171, down 4% on the year before.

Mary Williams, chief executive of Brake, blamed "woeful" under-funding by the government for more than 10 deaths a day on Britain's roads.

"There is far too little money spent on traffic policing, road safety TV advertising and engineering measures," she said.

"The horrendous loss of life should make road safety a political priority but instead it is always on the back burner with lots of rhetoric but far too little funding.

"If this number of people died in plane disasters there would be national outcry and urgent action taken."

Edmund King, executive director of Roadwatch, urged the government to reverse a decline in traffic police and concentrate on "visible and effective enforcement and education".

Blair hails 'life-saving' cameras
16 Jun 04  |  Politics
Peak road 'death trap for bikers'
15 Jun 04  |  Derbyshire
Growth of speed cameras slowing
13 Jun 04  |  Devon
Police detail speed camera sites
06 Jun 04  |  West Midlands
Cameras for speeding black spot
05 Jun 04  |  West Midlands


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