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Road deaths at all-time annual low

The number of people killed on the roads is at an all-time annual low, provisional Government figures have shown.

Last year, there were 1,857 people killed in British road accidents reported to the police - 16% fewer than in 2009 and the lowest total since records began in 1926.

A total of 22,660 people were reported killed or seriously injured in 2010 - 8% fewer than in 2009. There were 208,655 casualties (slight injuries, serious injuries and deaths) in road accidents reported to the police last year - 6% down on the 2009 figure.

Total reported child casualties (ages 0-15) fell by 5% to 19,569 in 2010. The number of children killed or seriously injured in 2010 was 2,502 - down 6% on 2009.

Motor vehicle traffic levels fell by 2% compared with 2009. The overall casualty rate for accidents reported to the police per billion vehicle miles therefore fell to 677 per billion vehicle miles, compared to 709 casualties per billion vehicle miles in 2009.

The deaths included 55 children aged 0-15 - a child fatality rate 32% lower than the figure of 81 in 2009. The number of pedestrians killed on the roads last year reached 405 - a 19% fall on the 2009 figure.

Publishing the statistics, the Department for Transport said "very few, if any" road accident deaths were not reported to the police.

But the department said it had long been known that "a considerable proportion of non-fatal casualties were not known to police". It said its best estimate for 2010 was that the total number of road casualties was "within the range 610,000 to 780,000 with a central estimate of 700,000".

AA president Edmund King said the big dip in deaths was "a massive achievement".

He went on: "However, we cannot be sure these reductions will continue. Two harsh winters and the recession have helped cut road use and casualties. Meanwhile, road maintenance standards are falling with expenditure cuts, and there is talk of the Government making the MoT test less frequent. It is never the right time to reduce road safety efforts."

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