International survey: Britain's roads the safest

International survey: Britain's roads the safest

Britain’s annual road deaths tally is the lowest out of 33 countries surveyed by an international transport watchdog which has declared the last 10 years “a record decade for road safety”.

Latest fatality figures published today by the Paris-based International Transport Forum show dramatic falls in road deaths since the turn of the century in 30 of the countries included.

In terms of road deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, Britain’s figure last year stood at 3.8 – compared with 23.8 in Malaysia at the other end of the scale.

The steepest declines in fatalities were recorded in Spain, Portugal and France in the last 10 years, while last year saw America’s lowest death toll on the roads for 60 years, at 11.1 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.

Measured as road fatalities per billion kilometres driven, the risk of dying in a road accident is smallest in Sweden (5.1), followed by the UK (5.2) and Switzerland (5.6).

It is highest in Korea (20.1 deaths per billion kilometres), the Czech Republic (19.4) and Malaysia (17.7.).

Portugal’s traffic-related deaths toll has fallen by 55% since the start of the century, Spain’s by 53% and that of France by 47%.

The UK’s figure fell by 35% and America’s by 19%.

The three countries with a worsening road accident record are Argentina, Cambodia and Malaysia.

International Transport Forum Secretary General Jack Short hailed the figures as “a record decade for road safety”, adding: “Reducing fatalities around the world will be accelerated by rapid and effective transfer of knowledge, good practice and information from the best performing countries.”

Fred Wegman, chairman of the OECD’s International Road Traffic and Accident Database which compiled the figures, commented: “In comparison to preceding decades, we have made a significant leap in the reduction of deadly road incidents during the first decade of the 21st century.”

But he warned: “Trends are much more worrying in many developing countries.”

There were substantial cuts in motorcycle fatalities in the last decade too, notably by 45% in Portugal and 39% in Korea.

But there were also huge rises – by 170% in Finland and 100% in Slovenia.

“These increases (in motorcycle deaths) are only partly explained by the rise in the number of motorcycles,” said Veronique Feypell-de La Beaumelle, road safety expert at the International Transport Forum.

“In the UK, for instance, motorcycle accidents were down 23%, despite a 45% increase in the number of motorcycles on the road.”

The Forum has set up a Motorcycle Safety Working Group to study the problem.

The United Nations has declared the next 10 years to be the “Decade of Action for Road Safety”, with a target of stabilising and then reducing global road deaths by 2020.

Road deaths per 100,000 inhabitants in 2009:

Malaysia – 23.8

Argentina – 18.4

Greece – 13.8

Cambodia – 12.6

Korea – 12.0

Poland – 12.0

US – 11.1

Lithuania – 11.0

New Zealand – 8.9

Belgium – 8.9

Czech Rep – 8.6

Slovenia – 8.4

Hungary – 8.2

Portugal – 7.9

Italy – 7.9

Austria – 7.6

Luxembourg – 7.2

Australia – 6.9

France – 6.9

Canada – 6.3

Spain – 5.9

Denmark – 5.5

Ireland – 5.4

Iceland – 5.3

Finland – 5.3

Germany – 5.1

Japan – 4.5

Switzerland – 4.5

Norway – 4.4

Israel – 4.2

Sweden – 3.9

Netherlands – 3.9

UK – 3.8

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