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Charity Highlights Worrying Trends in Road Safety

Road safety charity Brake has recently highlighted a number of worrying trends with regards to the safety of the UK’s roads.

The first area of concern for the charity is the number of deaths and serious injuries that are still occurring on the roads as a result of drink driving. Government figures show that in 2013, 240 people were killed by drivers over the legal drink drive limit, and provisional estimates for 2014 suggest that a similar number lost their lives last year as well.

The profile of Britain’s illegal drink drivers has apparently remained largely the same:

  • Three quarters (74%) of those killed and seriously injured are male.
  • More than three in ten (31%) drivers killed aged 25 to 39 are over the drink drive limit – the highest of any age group.
  • A quarter of drink drive deaths and serious injuries result from crashes where a young driver (17-24 years old) was over the limit.

“Education on drink driving is important, but it can only achieve so much,” commented Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive at Brake. “It seems we have reached a point where further meaningful reductions in devastating and needless drink drive deaths and serious injuries require more decisive action. Brake is calling for a zero-tolerance drink drive limit and greater priority and resourcing for traffic policing: evidenced steps we’re confident would help tackle this menace.”

The second area of road safety concern highlighted by Brake is the growing tendency for young drivers to see safety features as a low priority when buying a car.

According to a recent survey carried out on behalf of Brake and Direct Line, safety technologies came third on a list of factors that were important to car buyers. Reliability and fuel economy were seen as more important. However, amongst young drivers, only 48% said that safety was one of their top three considerations. For the 17 – 24 age group, this figure was even lower (37%), and more (39%) said that the brand of the vehicle was a more important consideration than safety.

Brake is calling for drivers to make safety features that protect both themselves and other road users a top priority when choosing a new vehicle, and to opt for a five star Euro NCAP rating wherever possible.

The charity explains that from January next year, vehicles will only be able to achieve a maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating if they are fitted with collision avoidance technologies such as pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and autonomous emergency braking (AEB).

AEB uses sensors to detect hazards ahead, and apply the brakes automatically if a collision is predicted. According to Brake, it could reduce pedestrian casualties by 15%, and prevent 60 deaths and 760 serious injuries in the UK within three years if installed in all new vehicles.

“When choosing a vehicle to drive on public roads, safety should always be the number one consideration,” said Julie Townsend. “However, any vehicle is ultimately only ever as safe as the person driving it, and choosing the safest possible vehicle still needs to be combined with legal, considerate driving.”

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