Britain Cutting Road Safety Spending

The road safety charity organization Brake, which is calling for the British government to adopt graduated driver licensing, disputes whether new statistics are accurate in showing a drop in deaths and serious injuries.

New statistics from the Department of Transport indicate deaths on Britain's roadways fell to 2,222 in 2009 and a goal set 10 years ago of reducing road casualties by 45 percent from the 1994-98 baseline has been achieved. But the road safety charity organization Brake contends the numbers aren't accurate and warns the austere budget from Prime Minister David Cameron will lessen safety on the roads because funds for those programs would be cut by 40 percent.

Speeding by young Britons continues to be a problem, according to Brake, which is calling on the government to adopt graduated driver licensing. "Brake is outraged that road safety has been targeted so brutally –- traffic is the biggest killer of young people, and dangerous behavior on roads causes thousands of horrific deaths and injuries of all ages every year in the UK," said Ellen Booth, Brake's campaigns officer. "By targeting road safety, the government has shown they have no concern for the families of the future carnage we may see because of this irresponsible and short-sighted cut of a vital life-saving service, and also no understanding of the enormous expense to the emergency services of road crashes and therefore the false economy of making these cuts."

The budget would entirely cut a capital grant for safety engineering such as pedestrian crossings, cameras, and speed bumps. The department has told Brake to look for funding from local authorities. Road safety partnerships of local road safety officers, traffic police officers, and others may be discontinued, Booth warned.

She said gaps in reporting highlighted by hospital statistics mean there is a significant undercount of casualties in the department's report. Automobile fatalities totaled 1,059 in 2009, a 16 percent drop from the previous year, and motorcycle fatalities fell by 4 percent to 472, according to the department's report. There were 21,997 accidents involving serious injuries in 2009, down 5 percent from 2008's 23,121.

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