Are public spending cuts causing more road deaths?

The number of people killed on British roads has been falling for so long that it is a bit of a shock to find that they actually rose last year.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, RoSPA, is concerned that cuts in road safety and traffic police may be partly to blame. The figures for 2011 for Great Britain, published today by the Department for Transport, show that road deaths rose by three per cent from 1,850 in 2010 to 1,901 in 2011.
Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at RoSPA, said: "RoSPA is concerned that reduced public spending on road safety, especially cuts to local authority and road policing budgets, may be partly to blame. The Government and the road safety profession need to urgently get together to understand why road deaths have now started to rise."

Meanwhile, road safey charity, Brake, has called for the government to consider the following measures:

• fund and encourage widespread 20mph limits and other measures by local authorities to enable people to walk and cycle safely in their communities, and to protect the most vulnerable road users, such as children;

• implement graduated driver licensing, to help young, inexperienced drivers to be safer (elements of this have been recently announced for Northern Ireland);

• lower our drink drive limit (recently announced for Scotland) and make traffic policing a national policing priority, to ensure greater resources are invested in catching drunk, drugged and other dangerous drivers.

We certainly would not object to more traffic police, but lowering the drink-drive limit seems less of a priority than enforcing the one we already have. Unless a drunk-driver actually crashes or commits some other serious offence, their chances of being caught are pretty low.
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