Road deaths at seven-year high

PUBLISHED: 12:47 09 January 2008 | UPDATED: 11:26 11 June 2010

DEVON County Council will look into ways to reduce the number of deaths on the county's roads after 49 people died in collisions in 2007. The latest set of police figures show the highest total in Devon since 2000, and a disappointing increase on the 2006

DEVON County Council will look into ways to reduce the number of deaths on the county's roads after 49 people died in collisions in 2007.The latest set of police figures show the highest total in Devon since 2000, and a disappointing increase on the 2006 total of 36 deaths.Councillor Margaret Rogers, Devon County Council executive member for environment, said: "Numbers of fatalities do fluctuate year by year and there is usually no single factor to account for increases or decreases. "But road safety experts from the county council will be discussing the toll with partners in the emergency services and the Highways Agency to see what issues need to be addressed in the programme of road safety for 2008."A more detailed analysis from the county council's road safety group reveals that 28 of the fatal collisions occurred on rural roads with a speed limit of 60mph and 70mph, while 13 fatal collisions were in 'urban' speed limits of 30 and 40mph.The victims were predominantly car or van occupants (19 drivers and 12 passengers), but 10 were motorcycle riders or pillions. Four pedestrians died, as well as two HGV occupants, a tractor driver and a quad bike rider. No cyclists or children under 16 years of age were killed.While some of these collisions are still subject to police or coroners' investigations, initial intelligence suggests that around half of these collisions may be attributed to basic errors of judgement or lapses. These include right turn manoeuvres, in-car distractions and excessive speeds by motorcyclists. It seems likely that several may have involved drivers under the influence of alcohol.Edward Chorlton, Devon County Council's Director for Environment, Economy and Culture, said: "Each death sends a shock wave through the communities and families affected by the collision. It must be particularly hard to come to terms with the tragedy when someone is the innocent victim of someone else's behaviour. "I would like to think that passengers in vehicles could be more active in letting their driver know that they expect to be driven safely.

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