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Last Updated: Friday, 6 May, 2005, 17:11 GMT 18:11 UK
UK road casualty numbers decline
Speed limit and camera sign
Campaigners say Britain's roads are being made safer
The number of people killed or seriously injured on Britain's roads fell by 7% last year, according to government figures.

The Office for National Statistics said 34,500 people died or were seriously hurt in road accidents in 2004 - 2,715 less than the previous year.

Experts say the fall in accidents is attributable to improvements in car and road safety.

But insurers claim that some drivers are failing to report minor accidents.

Encouraging figures

The total number of casualties, including slight injuries, fell by 3% overall in 2004.

The government aims to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured by 40% by 2010.

We have one of the best records in Europe but we can still do a lot more to make roads safer
RAC spokesman Philip Hall
A spokeswoman for the Department of Transport welcomed the figures and said: "The trend has been falling every year and we are confident that the target the government has set can be reached.

"There are different reasons for the fall but it is mainly down to improved road safety measures and programmes like the THINK! campaign which have helped to bring the overall accident rate down."

Richard Brunstrom, the head of road policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), and Chief Constable of North Wales Police, welcomed the new figures:

"I am pleased that road safety campaigns are having a real effect on the safety of our roads and I hope that the number of people killed or injured on our roads continues to fall," he said.

The RAC said the figures were encouraging but it warned against complacency.

Spokesman Philip Hall said: "We have one of the best records in Europe but we can still do a lot more to make roads safer.

"Cars are generally getting safer and there is a lot more work being done in terms of road planning to make roads and junctions safer."

Written off

But research conducted by the Privilege insurance company showed that 24% of drivers failed to report accidents to insurers or the police in 2004.

Although the majority of incidents were minor, 3% involved a car being written off.

A further 2% of accidents which resulted in injury, also went unreported.

Privilege managing director Ian Parker said: "Our research paints a worrying picture of accidents involving Britain's vehicles where minor accidents and incidents are viewed by drivers as too insignificant to report.

"We hope that by undertaking this research annually to coincide with Government statistics, we will be able to provide advice to help road users avoid common incidents and reduce the real number of accidents on Britain's roads."




SEE ALSO:
New freedom 'could cost dearly'
14 Mar 05 |  Scotland
Bid launched to cut road deaths
29 Sep 04 |  Cumbria
Blair hails 'life-saving' cameras
16 Jun 04 |  UK Election 2005


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