Latest traffic fatality figures prompt calls for tighter road safety laws

Latest traffic fatality figures prompt calls for tighter road safety laws
Tighter road safety laws should be put in place to combat stubbornly high traffic accident fatalities, according to safety campaigners.

The latest figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) have revealed that 1,730 people were killed on Britain’s roads in 2015.

Despite a minor year-on-year drop of 45 fatalities owing to what the DfT called “natural variation”, there has been no significant reduction to this total since 2011.

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This has prompted calls from the RAC Foundation for new measures such as the recently announced plan to double the punishment for illegal mobile phone use by drivers.

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Steve Gooding, director of the motoring research charity, said: “Humans remain the weakest link in road safety.

“In the decades ahead human error might be taken out of the equation by autonomous vehicles, but we can't sit back and wait for that day when so many people are being killed and seriously injured on our roads right now.

“Ministers have suggested that they are willing to act, for example on mobile phone penalties. We need them to get on with it."

The DfT's road casualty figures showed that the number of seriously injured casualties in road traffic accidents last year fell by 2.9% to 22,807.

Officials described the reduction as “statistically significant”, adding that it probably reflects “genuine changes on British roads”. Vehicle traffic levels increased by 1.6% between 2014 and 2015.

A DfT spokesman said: “Britain continues to have some of the safest roads in the world and last year we had the second lowest total of road fatalities on record.

“However, we are determined to do more.

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“We've just announced tougher penalties using a mobile phone while driving, which was just one of a raft of plans in our recently published Road Safety Statement.

“We are also working closely with safety groups on common sense proposals that balance tougher penalties for dangerous drivers with help for road users to stay safe.”

Harsher punishments for drivers caught using their mobile phone behind the wheel are to be introduced after research from the RAC showed the problem had reached shocking new levels.

The research revealed a rise in the number of people who own up to using their phone while driving, up from 8% in 2014 to 31% today.

In addition, there has been a rise in drivers sending a text, email or posting on social media, with the figure increasing from 7% two years ago to 19% today.

Under new proposals, which would come into force next year, the minimum fine drivers will receive if they are caught using a handheld mobile phone behind the wheel will rise from £100 to £200.

This will be accompanied by an increase in the amount of penalty points incurred from three to six, the Department for Transport revealed on Saturday.

Copyright Press Association 2016. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.