Road injuries at five-year high
County Hall bosses said the Department for Transport figures, showing a 14% rise in the number of people killed or seriously injured in Lancashire – not including Blackpool or Blackburn – were a “serious concern”.
Two years of falling casualty numbers came to an abrupt end last year, when 4,367 people were injured in a traffic accident in the county.
Sakthi Karunanithi, director of health and wellbeing for Lancashire County Council, said: “The increase in injuries on our roads over the last year is a serious concern and we’re working to interpret the data to understand the reasons for the recent rise.”
But he warned the figures need to be viewed “in context”. The average annual number of serious injuries between 2005 and 2009 was 873 – 19% higher than the 2014 figure.
Mr Karunanithi added: “At the same time it’s important to keep the new data in context. Our roads have become safer over the last 10 years, with the average number of serious injuries per year between 2005 and 2009 being 873, which is 19% more than this year’s figure.
“We regularly meet with colleagues in the Lancashire Partnership for Road Safety, including the police, and every year when the data is produced we use it to review our road safety strategy on the basis of the new information, and take appropriate action.
“For example, last year’s data showed a substantial increase in accidents to cyclists and since then we’ve committed to spending £500,000 to improve safety at 13 key junctions where the most incidents occur.
“We’re continuing to work hard to improve safety on our roads with education, enforcement and action targeted at those groups most at risk.
“This includes award winning campaigns for young drivers, speed awareness courses, and practical training for older drivers.”
Elsewhere in the county, however, the number of injuries on roads are declining.
In Blackpool the number of people hurt in a road accident fell for the second year running, to 560.
Although its total casualty rate of 396 per 100,000 people in the resort puts it among the 25 worst authorities in the country, very few of those involved serious injuries.
There were 51 people seriously hurts on the roads last year, the lowest number in five years and below the national average.
Coun Fred Jackson,
Blackpool Council’s Cabinet member responsible for road safety, said 20mph zones had helped makes the resort’s roads safer.
He said: “Road casualties in Blackpool have decreased by 20% over the last five years and I am extremely pleased to read that there were no fatalities on our roads last year.”