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British roads 'have fewest crashes'

Britain's annual road deaths tally is the lowest out of 33 countries surveyed by an international transport watchdog which has declared the last 10 years "a record decade for road safety".

Latest fatality figures published today by the Paris-based International Transport Forum show dramatic falls in road deaths since the turn of the century in 30 of the countries included.

In terms of road deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, Britain's figure last year stood at 3.8 - compared with 23.8 in Malaysia at the other end of the scale.

The steepest declines in fatalities were recorded in Spain, Portugal and France in the last 10 years, while last year saw America's lowest death toll on the roads for 60 years, at 11.1 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.

Measured as road fatalities per billion kilometres driven, the risk of dying in a road accident is smallest in Sweden (5.1), followed by the UK (5.2) and Switzerland (5.6).

It is highest in Korea (20.1 deaths per billion kilometres), the Czech Republic (19.4) and Malaysia (17.7.).

Portugal's traffic-related deaths toll has fallen by 55% since the start of the century, Spain's by 53% and that of France by 47%.

The UK's figure fell by 35% and America's by 19%.

The three countries with a worsening road accident record are Argentina, Cambodia and Malaysia.

International Transport Forum Secretary General Jack Short hailed the figures as "a record decade for road safety", adding: "Reducing fatalities around the world will be accelerated by rapid and effective transfer of knowledge, good practice and information from the best performing countries."

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