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Road casualties 9% higher

The number of people killed or injured on the roads is rising.

Total casualties from April to June were 9% higher than the same period last year, according to provisional figures from the Department for Transport (DfT).

Total casualties for the 12 months ending in June were 4% higher than the previous 12 months, with the number of people killed rising 3% from 1,713 to 1,760.

In the period April-June 2014 (spring 2014), there were 440 deaths - a figure practically unchanged from that of 439 for the same period last year.

But adding the number of those killed to those serious injured provided a killed and seriously injured (KSI) figure of 6,280 for spring 2014 - a 7% rise on the KSI total for spring 2013.

Spring 2014 slight injuries rose 9% to 41,740, while total casualties (deaths, serious injuries and slight injuries) rose 9% to 48,020.

For the 12 months ending June 2014 KSIs were up 4% to 24,580, with slight injuries rising 4% to 168,710 and total casualties increasing 4% to 193,290.

The figures relate to reported road casualties in Britain.

In spring 2014 there was a 9% increase in child KSIs and a 12% increase in total child casualties. Child pedestrian KSIs were up 1% and total child pedestrian casualties rose 3%.

There was also a big increase in pedal cyclist KSIs which rose 18% in spring 2014, while motorcyclist KSIs were up 9%.

The DfT said warmer weather in spring 2014 compared with spring 2013 may have increased the number of vulnerable road users, particularly motorcyclists and pedal cyclists, on the roads.

It added that traffic levels in spring 2014 were 0.8% higher than in spring 2013 which could partly explain the casualty increases.

Total pedestrian KSIs in spring 2014 were 1% down - the only road-user group to show a decrease in deaths and serious injuries.

Car user KSIs were 8% up in spring 2014.

Transport Minister Robert Goodwill said: "Any death on the road is a tragedy and improving safety is an absolute priority for this government.

"While there remains a significant long-term decline in casualties and Britain's roads are among the safest in the world, there is absolutely no room for complacency.

"We are determined to do more to reduce these figures, working with the police and other agencies, such as promoting road awareness through our THINK! campaign."

The KSI figure for pedal cyclists rose 10% for the 12 months ending June 2014 compared with the 12 months ending June 2013.

British Cycling's policy adviser and former Olympic cycling champion Chris Boardman said: "A 10% increase is a stat that should act as a wake-up call to the DfT instead of simply being explained about by the milder weather we've seen in the last year.

"It's great that more people are choosing cycling as a means of transport but the reality of Britain's roads will be putting millions more off. We need to see the Government investing at least £10 per head on putting this right."

AA president Edmund King said: "The casualty increase highlights once again that we cannot afford to be complacent about road safety in this country, despite our good track record.

"Although the good weather and increase in traffic may have had an impact, that will be scant consolation for those who have lost a loved one or been injured on our roads.

"Better road safety education, in particular, is vital if we are to help improve the accident figures for children and the best way to do this would be to include it on the national curriculum.

"The increase in casualty rates for motorcyclists and pedal cyclists also shows us that all road users need to look out for each other."

RAC external affairs head Pete Williams said: "The increase in road casualties is alarming, especially the statistics that show a rise in the number of child casualties.

"With Road Safety Week this month and darker evenings already upon us, November is an ideal time to take stock of these latest figures and think what we can as individuals do to bring about a change.

"Road safety is the responsibility of everyone if we're to drive these figures down and keep the UK's place as one of the countries with the safest roads."

Claire Francis, policy head at transport charity Sustrans, said cycling casualty figures showed "o ur roads aren't safe enough".

She went on: "We are failing to enable our children to get to school safely. It's no wonder that more and more are being ferried to school by car.

"It's a scandal that this is allowed to continue when we have simple solutions at our fingertips. Dedicated long-term funding for safe routes and slowing traffic speeds with 20mph limits would transform our communities, make cycling and walking safer, and allow children to journey to school safely by foot and by bike."

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