Road deaths rise for first time in 18 years

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M40 crash

The number of people killed and injured on Britain's roads rose last year for the first time since 1997.

Government figures show that 1,775 people died on the road in 2014 - a four per cent rise on the year before. Serious and minor injuries were also up from 2013, by five and six per cent respectively, with a total of nearly 200,000 casualties.

Worryingly, three quarters of the increase in road deaths was made up by pedestrian casualties, which accounted for one in four deaths last year. The number of children harmed on the roads has also risen by 6.2 per cent since 2013, with 16,727 casualties reported.

Cyclist casualties are still disproportionately high, having been on the rise since 2004. A total of 113 were killed and 3,401 seriously injured in 2014.

A 2.4 per cent rise in traffic levels in 2014 may partly account for the increase in road casualties. However, safety campaigners are urging the government and car manufacturers to do more.

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: "As our economy improves, we can expect traffic levels to continue to increase, so we must do everything we can to make sure this does not lead to even more increases in road crashes and casualties.

"The reductions in road death and injury in recent years will not automatically be sustained, without a continued focus on road safety. We must remain focused on making our roads safer for everyone, and especially for people traveling on foot and by two wheels.

"The number of pedestrian fatalities involving those over 60 has increased by 16 per cent, together with a seven per cent increase in car occupants. With an aging population we must renew our efforts to reverse this phenomenon."

Specifically, RoSPA is calling for a reduction of the legal drink-drive limit, the introduction of graduated driver licencing, and the quicker introduction of advanced vehicle safety technology, such as automatic braking, across manufacturer model ranges.

What do you think should be done to improve road safety? Have your say in the comments section below.