Road Traffic Fatalities
The speed limit on thousands of residential roads is to be reduced to 20mph in a bid to slash road traffic accident fatalities by a third over the next decade.
More than 3,000 people die on Britain's roads each year, including motorists, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians. The target, to be reached by 2020, is expected to be set at about 2,000 deaths.
The Government is to publish proposals on its road safety strategy in a consultation document this year which is expected to include a specific target to reduce road deaths by imposing a series of tough measures.
In addition to more 20mph zones, measures are likely to include a lower drink-drive limit, six penalty points for serious breaches of the speed limit and harsher penalties for not wearing seatbelts.
The Government's existing road safety target - to reduce deaths and serious injuries by 40% between 1998 and 2010 - has been criticised for being too weak. The target will probably be met, but only because the number of serious injuries recorded by police has fallen sharply.
Hospital admission figures show that serious injuries from road crashes have hardly changed since 1996. This may indicate that the fall in numbers of traffic police since 1990 is resulting in fewer serious injuries being recorded.
Copyright © PA Business 2008
Stephen Nye from law firm Irwin Mitchell's Birmingham office commented: "These new proposals are very welcome and should go some way to reducing the number of deaths on our roads. It will also be the case that pedestrians, particularly children, are more likely to survive accidents or sustain far less severe injuries, if drivers are travelling more slowly.
"I know from many cases I have dealt with that vehicle speed is the main cause of a collision and death and severe injury are far more likely the higher the speed is. The same applies to the plans for tougher enforcement of the law relating to the wearing of seatbelts - it is clear in my experience investigating and handling road accident claims, that wearing a seat belt can make the difference between life and death".