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British roads second safest in Europe

By raccars Published

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While concern about road safety in Britain and elsewhere remains high, a recent report has painted Britain's roads as the second safest in Europe. Overall road deaths in the EU are 50% lower than they were ten years ago. While the figures are encouraging, the European Transport Safety Council has cautioned that there is still room for improvement. Almost half of fatalities on the roads from 2010-2012 were car occupants.

The ETSC's study showed 240,000 EU road deaths from 2001-2012. However, the good news is that this fell from 27,700 in 2001 to less than half, 12,345 in 2012. The improvements have been attributed to stronger enforcement of traffic offences, higher levels of driver and passenger protection in cars and, to a smaller degree, improved road network infrastructure. The lower death rate was noticed across the board, with road death reductions in all countries. However, Latvia and Spain showed the biggest improvement.

The ETSC applauded Britain, Switzerland, Sweden and Holland for their progress, with these countries' roads named the safest in the EU for car occupant death rates, for every billion vehicle kilometres driven. At the bottom of the league table were the Czech Republic, Latvia and Poland.

The same report made recommendations, including the mandatory fitting of seatbelts, which it claims could save up to 900 lives annually. A zero tolerance policy on drink driving could potentially reduce annual road deaths by up to 5,600 and a 1km/h speed limit reduction could save 1,300 lives. Another suggestion from the report was to introduce tax incentives for buyers of cars scoring five star Euro NCAP safety ratings and those fitted with extra safety features, such as alcohol interlocks, seatbelt warnings and Intelligent Speed Assistance.

Britain is also working on road safety by introducing new legislation to extend the length of time traffic lights stay red, to give older pedestrians more time to cross. According to research, suggesting Britain's elderly population is finding it difficult to cross roads within the current amount of time allotted by traffic lights, a proposal has been made to fit sensors, to hold traffic lights on red while there are still pedestrians crossing.

The time set for pedestrians crossing at traffic lights was fixed in the Fifties but research has shown that most elderly pedestrians walk slower now than they did then.

Old fashioned pelican crossings are to be discontinued on British roads from 2015 and traffic lights with a countdown facility will become more common.

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