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The BBC's Roger Harrabin
"Slow speed zones will spring up in residential areas around the country"
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Wednesday, 1 March, 2000, 14:20 GMT
Safety purge to cut road deaths
speed graphic
Britain has one of Europe's worst child road death rates
High-risk drink drivers could be hit with automatic two-year bans under plans to reduce deaths and injuries on Britain's roads.

Raising the maximum penalty for careless driving and introducing retesting for serious driving offences are also set out in the government's new road safety strategy.

Safety plans
Number of 20mph zones to increase
Stiffer penalties for dangerous drivers
Ban on irresponsible car adverts
More speed cameras
Look at safety of business drivers
Probation plates for new drivers
Specific laws on mobile phone use
Changes to driving test
And - in a bid to improve Britain's poor record on child road deaths - the number of 20mph zones will be increased around schools and residential areas.

Launching the strategy Roads Minister Lord Whitty said: "Changing driver behaviour is the key.

He added: "By 2010, we want speeding to be as socially unacceptable as drink-driving has become."

While Britain's overall road safety record is good, it has one of the worst child pedestrian fatality rates in Europe with 1.3 deaths per 100,000 children - 15 children are killed or seriously hurt each day on its roads.

The government has set itself a target of reducing child deaths and serious injuries on the roads by 50% by 2010.

It also wants to reduce overall deaths and serious injuries on the roads by 40% by 2010, while reducing slight injuries by 10%.

Pamela and Dennis Moore
Pamela Moore, with husband Dennis: Lost her daughter and son-in-law
Prime Minister Tony Blair said: "We have the second best safety record in Europe, but the fact that 15 children are killed or seriously injured on our roads every day is simply unacceptable."

He added: "We will target accident hotspots around schools, improve driver training and how we teach our children about safety on roads.

"Our 50% child casualty reduction target is a tough one. It will take a huge effort to meet it, but I believe we can."

It is estimated that road deaths and serious injuries could be halved if 20mph limits were introduced in built-up areas.

Campaigners: Not enough

Lynn Sloman, from environmental group Transport 2000, said the measures would not go far enough.

British road deaths
In 1998, 3,421 were killed
Worst year was 1941 when 9,169 died
Second worst child death rate in EU
About 15 children killed/injured per day
"We would have liked to have seen a 20mph limit everywhere that children walk or ride their bikes," she said.

Ms Sloman also called for extra money to be made available for traffic calming measures, and said the police needed to take a more stringent attitude towards speeding.

Debbie Harvey, from Waterloo, south London, whose husband Stephen was killed on a pedestrian crossing in March 1998, was present at the strategy launch.

She said: "I am very disappointed with this strategy review. Why can't the Government take a stand?

Keith Hill MP
Keith Hill: Speeding must become as unacceptable as drink-driving
"Why pass the buck on to local councils for imposing speed limits? Fines for speeding motorists are pitiful and the strategy review is a load of waffle."

RAC spokesman Peter Bill said the government's measures were "tough but appropriate".

Local authorities are being required to plan specific measures to cut child deaths and injuries as part of their local transport plans.


Funding for these plans is to be raised from 755m in 2000-01 to 1bn in 2001-02.

But Ben Plowden, director of the Pedestrians Association, said: "The question of speed limits is too important to be left to local authorities."

The strategy also includes more use of speed cameras, consultation on how to make employed drivers act more safely, and a crackdown on irresponsible car advertising.

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