SPEED THRILLS - BUT KILLS: SA's road-death toll is 15 times that of the UK, which has a similar population. Now there's a suggestion to cut the UK's urban speed limit by a third. Image: Shutterstock
LONDON, England - British road-safety charity Brake is dismayed by marginally rising road casualtiesin that country and wants all political parties to commit to three vital road safety policies to protect pedestrians, cyclists, children and young people.
UK stats show that death and serious injury on UK roads increased by 4% in the year ending September 2014, with deaths up by 1%, but even so the figures are so low that by comparison South African roads could be described as a war zone.
CALLING ON POLITICIANS
In total, 1730 people were killed (the figure in South Africa is disputed, possibly for political reasons, but generally accepted to be at least 30 000 a year from a similar population - Editor) and 22 630 seriously injured on UK roads in the year ending September 2014, up from 1711 / 21 728 serious injuries in the previous year.
• Casualties of all severity were also up by 5% from 184 087 to 192 910.
• Casualties were up for all types of road user, with child and cyclist casualties of particular concern.
• Child deaths and serious injuries were up 3% to 2060, casualties of all severity by 6% to 16 640 – the first rise in rolling-year comparisons for 20 years.
• Cyclists' deaths and serious injuries were up in total by 8% to 3500.
Brake is calling on all political parties in Great Britain to make three, key General Election manifesto commitments to get casualties down again and to enable everybody to get around safely, sustainably and actively.Next in line: introduce graduated driver licensing so new drivers can build skills and experience while exposed to less danger. Read about the 2Young2Die campaign.
GRADUATED DRIVING LICENCE
The main one is a demand to drop the urban speed limit to 32km/h (20mph) to protect pedestrians and cyclists and allow everybody to walk or cycle without fear. Read about the Go 20 campaign
And third, introduce a zero-tolerance drink drive limit of 20mg/100ml of blood to stamp out the menace of drinking and driving once and for all. Read about the Not a drop, Not a drag campaign
Julie Townsend, Brake's deputy chief executive, told Wheels24: “These casualty increases are the tragic result of a failure of ambition. They come on the back of three years of flat road death and serious injury figures during which the UK government congratulated itself on having ‘some of the safest roads in the world’ rather than making forward-thinking decisions and setting targets to secure further reductions.
“We need a commitment to a long-term vision of nobody being killed or seriously injured on our roads rather than settling for the status quo. Every road casualty causes appalling suffering, every one could have been prevented, but only if we make the right moves.
“Global research and experience clearly points to the policies that prevent road casualties and the resultant suffering and enable people to get around through healthy and sustainable means.
“Based on this evidence, we’re appealing to all political parties to include three key life-saving measures in manifestos: graduated driver licensing, a 20mph default urban speed limit and a zero-tolerance drink-drive limit.
“We have no doubt these measures would put us back on the path of stopping loss of life on our roads and creating safer streets and communities for all.”
Do YOU have any smart ideas to reduce South Africa's road death toll (sensible ones only please)? How would you react to a 30km/h urban speed limit? Tell us in the Readers' Comments section below or E-mail Wheels24 if you'd like to be published.