Increase in road deaths

The number of people killed on Norfolk's roads has risen since last year, but road safety bosses say they are winning the long-term battle to save lives.

The number of people killed on Norfolk's roads has risen since last year, but road safety bosses say they are winning the long-term battle to save lives.

The latest available police figures, up until November 25, 2009, showed there had been 48 deaths on Norfolk's roads in 2009, a steep rise compared to 2008 when 38 people died in road crashes.

However, Alec Byrne, chairman of Norfolk County Council's joint casualty reduction partnership, said while the rate had increased from 2008 to 2009, the number of deaths and serious injuries had been halved since 2000.

He said the hard-hitting 'Don't be a Loser' campaign, which targets 17 to 25-year-old drivers, had been very successful.

Mr Byrne said: “I would love to see it down at zero but it is impossible to achieve that as we are all human beings and all make errors.

“We are doing a lot better but we want to improve because the tragedy behind these figures is tremendous.

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“We want people to go out and enjoy themselves but we want them to come home safely and to drive safely.”

The 2008 reduction was hailed as an important step towards making the county's road safer when the death toll in previous years - 66 in 2006

and 56 in 2007 - was taken into account.

Up until December 13, 2009, there were seven deaths on the roads in the Waveney area of Suffolk, compared to five in 2008, two in 2007 and six in 2006.

By December 22, 2009, the number of young people under the age of 25 who lost their lives on Suffolk's roads reached 16.

Older drivers and motorcyclists are among the road users who continue to be a cause for concern for the Think! Norfolk Partnership, which aims to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on Norfolk roads.

In 2005 the number of people killed or seriously hurt on Norfolk's roads was reaching more than 550 each month.

In 2009, excluding December, this had fallen to under 400 on all but three occasions when it reached 407 twice and 403 once.

Mr Byrne said: “The challenges

to us right now are the older

driver and also the two-wheeled vehicles.

“We want older drivers to have a little MoT and check themselves out, from having an eye test to checking they are taking their pills properly.

“These are not big issues, but they make a big difference.

“We don't look for short-term fixes and in Norfolk we are doing a remarkable job on making roads safer. We have won four national awards and are leading the way in road safety.”

In the current financial year, the county council is spending �840,000 on crossings, �1.1m on new pavements, �940,000 on cycleways and �825,000 through the safer and healthier routes to schools programme.

A Caring About Rural Speeds campaign and initiatives to remove sign clutter and encourage improved driver behaviour are also in place.

Average speed cameras are also being considered for the A149 and A1151 roads.

The government wants councils to review speed limits by 2011, and has announced proposals to allow them to bring in more 20mph limits and to consider reducing 60mph limits to 50mph on the most accident-prone A and B roads.

While Mr Bryne remains unconvinced that dropping the speed limit from 60mph to 50mph is the answer to cutting accidents on rural roads, the proposals have been welcomed by road safety campaigners.