Brake: paying the price for road safety inaction

Brake, the road safety charity, is urging the government to show strong leadership in the face of the first calendar year increase in road casualties in 17 years.

The charity believes the reintroduction of ambitious casualty reduction targets, axed in 2010, must be a key first step in an urgently needed fightback against road danger and it points out that people on foot and bike bore the brunt of the rise.

Almost all of the increase in pedestrian deaths was among people aged 60 and over, suggesting the prevailing UK street environment is not safe for an ever growing section of our society. Older people, who often struggle to judge speed and distance, are one group who would stand to benefit most from a 20mph default urban speed limit – as called for by the GO 20 coalition campaign.

Ed Morrow, campaigns officer for Brake, said: “We should be under no illusions as to the seriousness of these figures. Hand-wringing about statistical significance aside, the reversal of a downward casualty trend that has been ongoing for 17 years does not happen by chance. What is absolutely crystal clear is that things are not getting better, and that simply isn’t good enough.

“The government must take the bull by the horns on this, and it can start by reintroducing ambitious casualty reduction targets, with an ultimate aim of reducing deaths and serious injuries on our roads to zero. Every road death causes unimaginable human suffering, and every road death is preventable.

“Britain claims to have some of the safest roads in the world, but that just isn’t true if you are one of the many people who want to get around on foot or bike. Pedestrians and cyclists are picking up the tab for the government’s failure of ambition – a 20mph default urban speed limit is a key step to rectifying this.”

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