Page last updated at 15:49 GMT, Thursday, 26 June 2008 16:49 UK

Annual road deaths at record low

Crashed car
Safety campaigners called for continued vigilance

The number of people killed on British roads last year fell to the lowest level since records began, transport department figures show.

Just over 2,940 people died in 2007, a drop of 7% from 2006, with child deaths dropping 28% to a record low of 121.

Among motorcyclists there were 588 deaths, a fall of 2%, and 136 pedal cyclists were killed, down 7%.

Road Safety Minister Jim Fitzpatrick welcomed the decline but said road safety improvements were still needed.

"These figures are extremely encouraging. They show that for the first time since records began in 1926 the number of people killed on our roads has fallen below 3,000.

"But these figures make us determined to do even more. Far too many people are still dying and we will continue to do everything we can to improve road safety and further reduce the numbers of people killed or injured."

Deaths and serious injuries taken together fell in all classes of road users except motorctyclists, which recorded a 4% rise to 6,737.

Other 2007 figures show:

  • 30,720 people were killed or seriously injured in 2007 - 4% fewer than in 2006
  • 247,780 road casualties in Great Britain in 2007 - 4% fewer than 2006
  • The number of deaths among car users in 2007 was 1,431 - 11% down on 2006
  • There were 644 pedestrian deaths last year - a 5% drop.

The government has set a 2010 target of reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured in road accidents by 40% compared with the 1994-98 average.

The 2007 figure are 36% below that average.

Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Norman Baker welcomed the drop in casualties, but said "the fact remains that you are 100 times more likely to be killed on the roads than the railways".

He lamented the state of the railways, saying the overcrowding on trains did not encourage people to abandon driving in favour of rail travel.

Driver attitudes

The drop in deaths was also welcomed by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, who attributed it to local authority road safety programs, police, "government-led strategies" and technological advances in vehicles.

Motoring group the RAC Foundation warned of complacency in the wake of fewer deaths and injuries.

Deputy director Sheila Rainger said there was still a need for improving driver attitudes, high-profile enforcement by traffic police; and improving safety at known accident hotspots.

And AA president Edmund King said short-term improvements such as enforcing seatbelt, mobile phone and drink-drive laws would help reduce deaths even further.


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