Road safety plan to reduce deaths

Plans to reduce the annual death toll on Britain's roads by one third by 2020, have been announced as part of a new Government road safety strategy.

Transport minister Jim Fitzpatrick proposed 20mph speed limits for local areas and a lowering of the 60mph limit to 50mph on single-carriage rural roads.

In a move to change the driving test, 14 to 17-year-olds would be able to earn a partial credit towards the theory part of the test to create "better prepared drivers".

An independent panel will also provide an annual report on road safety to Parliament along and a map showing rural roads with the poorest safety record will be published each year.

The Government will now consult on the new strategy and if successful, road deaths could dip as low as 2,000 by 2020 from highs of 8,000 in the mid-1960s.

The Government wanted to make Britain`s roads "the safest in the world" Mr Fitzpatrick said.

The plan faced criticism from opposition MPs, while the RAC Foundation said a blanket reduction in speed limits risked "alienating motorists", but measures were generally welcomed.

If the proposals are adopted, they would have to be taken up by local council highway authorities.

Copyright © Press Association 2009