‘No trend’ in road deaths increase

Road deaths have increased both nationally and in the county this year
Road deaths have increased both nationally and in the county this year

The first rise in road deaths for nearly a decade has prompted MPs and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents to call on the Government to provide stronger leadership.

Nationally, the number of people killed on the roads rose from 1,850 in 2010 to 1,901 in 2011 - the first rise since 2003.

In Northamptonshire road death numbers have dropped yearly from 2006 but here too we have seen an increase for the first time this year. In 2011 the numbers dropped to 19 but so far this year 24 people have died.

In April 2011 the county’s fixed speed cameras were turned off when the Casualty Reduction Partnership was disbanded after Northamptonshire County Council cut its funding.

Superintendent Sean Bell, of Northamptonshire Police’s operations department, said: “Tragically, 23 people have now lost their lives on our roads this year and our thoughts, as always, are with those who have lost loved ones.

“None of this year’s fatal collisions have taken place at the locations of the former fixed safety cameras and so far there’s no indication of a trend in why these collisions have taken place. A variety of possible contributory factors, including distraction, fatigue, excess alcohol, inappropriate speed, vehicle defects and weather conditions have been uncovered as part of those investigations.

“We continue to work with our partners to ensure the roads are as safe as possible and would urge everyone who uses the roads, be they pedestrian, passenger, driver or rider, to think road safety at all times.”

The county council pulled the funding for the Casualty Reduction Partnership after the Government withdrew road safety funding in 2010-11 which for Northamptonshire amounted to £2.18m.

A county council spokesman said: “Officers from the council and the police thoroughly investigate each incident and explore all possible causes.

“Tremendous improvements have been made in road safety in recent decades with seat belts, better road engineering, advanced technology in car design, speed cameras and education campaigns all playing a part in reducing the number of deaths and injuries on our roads.

“Both the police and the council have agreed the continuation of a targeted approach is the most effective and appropriate way to operate.

“The council has retained a small road safety team that concentrates on education, accident analysis and engineering interventions in line with its statutory role. The police concentrate on enforcement, including the targeted use of mobile safety cameras across the county.

“We will continue to work collaboratively on road safety issues to maintain a joined-up approach. We’ve always taken road safety issues seriously and will continue to do so in the future.”

The county council’s road safety team is still responsible for collision data collection and analysis, the red route working group, the self purchase vehicle activated sign scheme which offers the opportunity for parish councils to buy, manage and operate their own temporary signs, the junior road safety officer scheme, Bikeability in schools, the 2 Fast 2 Soon presentation for Year 12 students, the safer routes to school programme, speed indicator devices, drink-drive awareness course, driver alertness course, the road safety exhibition vehicle, seatbelt sled and the CarKraft course which hones driving skills at the Silverstone circuit.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said it was concerned a reduction in public spending because of cuts to council and road policing budgets could be partly to blame for the increase in deaths nationally.

The Commons Transport Committee also published a report into road safety last week which found the increases in road fatalities across the country should be a wake-up call for Government to provide stronger leadership on road safety.