Pandemic reduces traffic but lives still lost on Hertfordshire roads

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Brake calls for better investment in vehicle safety and infrastructure, more segregated spaces for cyclists and pedestrians and appropriate speed limits

Dozens of people died and more than 300 were seriously injured in road traffic accidents last year, figures for Hertfordshire Constabulary show.

With reduced road usage during the coronavirus pandemic, fatal and serious road traffic accidents dropped by more than a fifth across the country but 27 people still lost their lives due to collisions around Hertfordshire in 2020.

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However, less traffic contributed to an 18 per cent decline in the number of people killed or seriously hurt locally and an overall drop of 31 per cent in the total number of casualties, from 2,738 in 2019 to 1,897.

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Department for Transport figures show at least 305 suffered serious, potentially life-changing injuries.

And the number of people left with slight injuries is likely to be higher than the 1,565 recorded as not all crashes or collisions are reported.

Road traffic across Britain dropped by over a fifth in 2020 compared to the previous year with the overall number of casualties plunging by a quarter in that time.

But cyclist deaths rose, from 100 in 2019 to 140 last year.

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A spokesperson for Hertfordshire County Council said: “The lockdowns and social distancing measures in place over the last year have made a big difference to how people have been travelling, and we are working to understand the impact that has had on road traffic collisions in Hertfordshire.

“We know that there has been a big increase in the number of people walking and cycling, and we’re pleased to see that this increase in active travel hasn’t led to an increase in collisions involving walkers and cyclists locally.

"We’ve introduced new measures across the county to make walking and cycling a safer and more attractive option during the pandemic, and we’re currently consulting on whether some of these should be made permanent.

“We’re also working as part of the Hertfordshire Road Safety Partnership on programmes to help educate and protect vulnerable road users, as well as focusing on key topics such as speeding, drink and drug driving, distractions and seatbelts.”

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The AA say the Government must do more to eradicate road deaths completely by the end of the decade while road safety charity Brake say it is unacceptable to see lives lost or changed forever as a result of preventable crashes.

A spokesman for Brake said the national decrease in deaths and serious injuries represented a step in the right direction and demonstrated the possibility of reducing casualties.

He called for better investment in vehicle safety and infrastructure, more segregated spaces for cyclists and pedestrians and appropriate speed limits, adding: "Every death on our roads is a tragedy for the victims’ loved ones, while injuries can have devastating consequences on an individual’s life.

"We need a concerted focus on reducing road deaths and catastrophic injuries. This requires ambitious targets to end the carnage on our roads."

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AA president Edmund King said 2020's reduction in road traffic casualties should not become a "one-off" as he called for the Government to introduce road safety targets.

He said: “Regardless of how we use the roads, we all have a responsibility to one another to ensure people can travel safely.”

“For many years the Government has not set any road safety targets.

"If we are serious about a vision zero for road deaths the Government should urgently reintroduce targets so we can work hard to end road deaths as quickly as possible.”

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A Department for Transport spokesman said: “While we have some of the safest roads in the world, this Government will continue to work tirelessly to ensure they are made even safer.

“Our targeted THINK! Campaign continues to educate road-users, and as part of our 2019 Road Safety Statement we committed to a two-year action plan to help promote safer driving on our roads.”