Reader letter: The rising number of deaths on Norfolk’s roads is concerning but hardly surprising

PUBLISHED: 14:48 20 January 2018 | UPDATED: 14:48 20 January 2018

The A146 Hales junction is particularly dangerous (Picture: Norfolk County Council)

The A146 Hales junction is particularly dangerous (Picture: Norfolk County Council)

Norfolk Coutny Council

News that the number of people killed or seriously injured on Norfolk’s roads has risen slightly over the last 12 months is concerning but hardly surprising.

What is surprising is the apparent lack of insight of many commentators on the reasons behind so many road collisions. Statistics are bandied about without any consideration with regard to their relevance or with a view to improving road safety in general.

Apparently the use of mobile phones may be a significant factor in the increase and the knee jerk response is that drivers must be held responsible, forgetting that the overwhelming number of road users using mobile phones are pedestrians. It should be remembered that in the recent high profile case where a pedestrian was killed by a cyclist it was alleged that the victim was using a mobile phone when crossing the road.

It is alleged that the increase in casualties may be due to the surge in cycling, which is not surprising when, according to statistics published by RoSPA, between a third and a half of accidents involving cyclists are caused by cyclists themselves.

What is surprising are some the statistics quoted in the article. It is alleged that one in six casualties is aged 65 or over. Given that older people are more likely to suffer significant trauma in any accident, that figure is not surprising. However the fact that over 80pc of all casualties involve younger people should be giving far more cause for concern.

For the first time figures have highlighted the apparent failure of reduced speed limits in reducing accidents. Half of all accidents occur on roads with speed limits at or below 40mph and the remainder occur on roads with limits above 40mph. On this basis, roads with a lower speed limit are no safer than those with a higher limit.

What is particularly concerning is that the emphasis continues to be on making drivers responsible for safety on the roads. Lorne Green, the police and crime commissioner, has all the information regarding fatal and potentially fatal road accidents available to him and to make a blanket statement like “people have a personal responsibility when behind the wheel” without qualification is little more than irresponsible. Without information regarding the causes of accidents, as opposed to the consequences of accidents, progress in improving road safety cannot take place. The most important step Lorne Green could take would be to publish all information, on an anonymised basis if necessary, on all fatal road accidents so that planners and the public can make an informed judgment on road safety matters.

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