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Britain lags behind on road safety

Britain lags behind Europe on its record to improve safety for cyclists, as the number of deaths and injuries on the road has increased in recent years. Official figures show that over 100 cyclists died and over 3,000 were seriously injured in Britain in 2013. However, the real number is likely to be much higher because these figures include only cases reported to the police; many cases go unreported, even when they result in hospitalisation.

The rising number of injuries is partly down to the increasing number of people choosing to cycle instead of drive. But Britain’s record on improving cycle safety is poor; the number of deaths has fallen just 3 per cent in 10 years, and Britain ranks 23rd within Europe for addressing the problem. Although £114 million had been earmarked for improving safety in eight cities, the government has recently decided to cut £23 million from this funding.

In particular, Britain has a very poor record of deaths caused by collisions with large vehicles like buses and lorries. These account for 30 per cent of all deaths, despite making up just 10 per cent of road traffic. The majority of accidents happen at junctions and turns, and three-quarters of deaths and serious injuries occur in urban areas, where cycling is more common.

The most common cause of serious injury to adult cyclists is “failure to look properly”, particularly at junctions. This is attributed to drivers in 57 per cent of cases and cyclists in 43 per cent, leading campaigners to ask whether a separate cyclist safety module should be included in driving tests. Some 40 per cent of hospitalisations include head injuries, with injuries to arms and legs also being common.
The Department of Transport is required to make cuts of more than £500 million in the coming years, risking further deaths on the roads as plans to create dedicated cycle lanes and other measures are cancelled.

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