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Death on the road

News: Is enough money spent on road safety measures?

On Sunday, the 3,421 people killed in UK road accidents last year will be remembered on the 6th European Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.

According to the ICE the deaths, along with 44,255 serious injuries and 325,212 slight injuries on the roads, are estimated to cost the country up to £12bn a year in consequential expenses like accident clear-up costs and hospital bills. On average each fatal road crash costs the country about £800,000.

The road accident bill could be as high as £20bn a year according to transport research body TRL, which estimates that up to half of all road accidents go unreported.

'We could spend billions and billions of pounds to greatly reduce fatalities on the roads. The fact that we don't implies a certain value to human life,' says ICE economic and political affairs manager Owen Simon.

More public spending on traffic calming, pedestrian friendly home zones, play zones and road crossings would greatly reduce accidents in urban areas says ICE local authority officer Robert Huxford. He says a £2.3bn national investment on physically enforced 20mph zones would reduce child pedestrian and cycling accidents by 75% and urban road accidents by 56%.

But many road safety improvements are unlikely to be funded. Calls for more road safety spending come at a time when spending on the main transport programmes by the DETR is 24% lower than the last year of the Conservative Government, according to the ICE.

Local authority investment in accident prevention depends on Government funding. Tight spending constraints mean that money is currently focused on small schemes like traffic signals and pedestrian crossings. This is because they offer a higher return on investment in terms of accident reductions per pound spent.

In Kent, the average road casualty

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