Drivers warned problem has hit 'highest level' and 'alarm bells should ring'

Pedestrian deaths have hit their "highest level" with drivers warned over the "extremely concerning" state of British roads. The number of pedestrians who died last year has risen six per cent, up to 407 from 385 the year previously.

Simon Williams, RAC head of policy, said the proportion of pedestrian fatalities is now at its “highest” since before the Covid pandemic and the figures should be a “red flag” to the Government signifying "just how dangerous our roads still are”.

He said: “It’s extremely concerning that these figures have risen in the two years since the Highway Code was changed with a view to making the roads safer for the most vulnerable users. We hope there isn’t a negative link between the two, but with RAC research showing a third of drivers think pedestrians now face greater danger at junctions due to the changes, there seem to be questions that need answering.”

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Nicholas Lyes, director of policy and standards at IAM RoadSmart, said: “It is a stark reminder to all parties that an updated road safety plan as well as a national roads renewal programme must be a priority for whomever forms the next Government.”

He said "alarm bells should be ringing". Edmund King, AA president, said: “Any fatality and injury on our roads is tragic and it’s important we take bold steps to eliminate road deaths. The shocking fact that drivers and passengers alike are willing to travel in a moving car without a seatbelt on is horrific. We need to do everything possible to change this behaviour once and for all and ensure everyone clips in before setting off.

“A generational lapse in one of the most basic road safety disciplines is contributing to 21% of car occupant fatalities. Years ago, it was drummed into drivers and then passengers to belt up before setting off on a car journey. Now, it seems that too many car occupants have become complacent and failure to wear a seat belt is a major concern and potential killer.

“It seems a proportion of people drive carelessly or dangerously as it is clear that many believe they can do what they want as they won’t get caught. Our Motoring Manifesto is clear that we need more cops in cars to help police the roads. Not only will their presence act as a deterrent, but they can stop poor and illegal drivers immediately, potentially preventing further tragedy.”