Where are the most dangerous roads in Britain?
So where are Britain's most dangerous roads, and who are the surprising companies stepping into the breach?
Rising accident rateThe data released today reveals that 1,901 people were killed on the road in Britain in 2010 - an increase of 2% - the first time the figures have gone up since 2003. Alarmingly, within these figures lurk the fact that the number of pedestrian deaths have risen 12% and the number of serious cycle injuries are up 16%. Road accidents are now the biggest threat to life of all young people aged 16-24.
And while councils cannot be held responsible for all accidents in their area, there are clear signs that some are doing far more to combat the risks on the roads than others - either due to restrictions and special measures, or education, officers and speed cameras.
Worst councilsThe list, revealed by the House of Commons Transport Select Committee, compared the level of accidents in 2006-2010 with the level in the period from 1994-1998. It shows that the worst performing council is Doncaster, which failed to record any decrease in the number of people killed or seriously injured on the road. This was followed by Bournemouth which only saw a 3% drop and Redcar and Cleveland, which managed a cut of just 8%.
This is an astonishingly poor performance compared to the councils with the biggest drops in the number killed or seriously injured. The best council on the list was Halton in Cheshire, which has cut the numbers 70%, followed by Coventry which is down 66% and Telford and Wrekin down 65%.
The AA said: "This is a real wake-up call to all those engaged in and responsible for helping make our roads, drivers, cars and communities safe. At a time of austerity we cannot afford to take our eye off the ball when it comes to saving more lives on Britain's roads." It has called on the government to dedicate more resources to increase the numbers of traffic officers on the road.
Its Head of Road Safety Andrew Howard says: "The government must take this into account in deciding the resources to devote to road safety and must not allow complacency to set in. The rise in pedestrian deaths and cycle casualties continues to be a major cause for concern. We all need to do more to reduce road deaths and should aim for 5 star drivers, in 5 star cars on 5 star roads."
Insurers make a differenceWhile clearly the government and councils must play their part in making the roads safer for all users, a surprising group of companies have started a trend that is actually resulting in safer driving - insurers. The trend in question is the rise of insurance policies which require the driver to have a telematics black box in the boot, monitoring their driving.
An analysis of 10,000 young driver claims by The Co-operative Insurance shows that those with telematics or 'black box' insurance are 20% less likely to have a car crash than those with standard insurance. As well as having fewer car crashes, young drivers with a black box tend to be involved in less serious road accidents, as the cost of a typical insurance claim from a customer with the box is 30% less than from a customer without.
Amy Kilmartin, Manager of the Young Driver Insurance scheme at The Co-operative, said: "We can see that motorists with this type of insurance are genuinely driving better than those without it.
New customers of AA's telematic insurance are even offered free Drive Smart tuition by the AA's Charitable Trust. Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, says: "If they can immediately demonstrate an improving standard of driving they are significantly reducing the risk of having a crash. They also stand to be rewarded with a decent refund, bringing down the premiums that they pay."
He adds: "I believe that the combination of Drive Smart tuition with the continuous monitoring of driving standards, that can be followed by users of AA Drivesafe on their home computer or smartphone, will quickly help them to become responsible, proficient and considerate drivers."
Of course, all insurers have a vested interest in bringing down accident rates and preserving the car and the driver - which is why they are happy to invest in the technology and education to help. The question is why the councils don't have a similar vested interest to persuade them to do something to protect people on their roads.
Worst councilsDoncaster 0%
Redcar and Cleveland 8%
Brighton and Hove 11%
East Sussex 19%
Biggest reductionsHalton in Cheshire 70%
Telford and Wrekin 65%
Barking and Dagenham 63%