12 May 2011
It is likely that the 2010 figure for road deaths in the UK will be below 2,000 for the first time since records began – well below peaks of 9,000 in 1941 and 7,985 in 1966.
Two thousand road deaths is still far too many, but it leaves Britain at least as safe as anywhere in the world, and probably safer.
In the UK, contrary to public belief, teenagers are more likely to die on the roads than from stabbings or drugs
Edmund King, AA President
The situation is very different around the world, particularly in developing countries. Well over one million people die on the roads around the world every year – that's nearly twice as many every day as are killed in the UK in a whole year.
The United Nations estimates the number of people injured on the roads at between 20 and 50 million a year – many left with lifetime disabilities.
To help counter this rising trend, one hundred national Governments approved the Resolution for the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020 in the UN General Assembly last year.
Across the world the Decade of Action could save five million lives and prevent 50 million serious injuries.
In developing countries many simple things can be encouraged to make a difference – seat belt and helmet use for example.
At the same time highway design is crucial – accidents where cars leave the road and hit trees or other objects are far too common.
Wear the road safety tag
The symbol of the decade of action is the yellow road safety tag which it is hoped will become the road safety equivalent of the iconic red ribbon for HIV/AIDS or the white wristband worn in the fight against global poverty.
Tags can be purchased at www.decadeofaction.org.
In London Prime Minister David Cameron joined Formula One Champions Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button in Downing Street to lead calls for urgent action to cut road deaths.
Wearing the new yellow road safety Tag Prime Minister David Cameron said:"Every six seconds, someone is killed or seriously injured on the world's roads. Addressing this must be an urgent priority for the international community.
"In the United Kingdom, we have managed to make our roads amongst the safest in the world. Yet, despite this road accidents are still the leading cause of death for British teenagers and young adults – with the loss of six or seven people in road crashes every day.
"That's why I'm adding my voice to all those across the world who are coming together in support of the launch of the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety."
Around the world, celebrities and high profile figures have been supporting the Decade of Action including former US President Bill Clinton; Bob Geldof; the Ghana national football team (who recently wore 'tags' while playing England at Wembley); and this year's London Marathon winner Emmanuel Mutai.
The AA is supporting the Decade of Action for Road Safety. Though we have the safest roads in the world, road deaths are the biggest cause of accidental death amongst the young. The AA Charitable Trust for Road Safety and the Environment is taking action to tackle this issue.
The AA Charitable Trust is extending its free Drive Smart training scheme to young drivers most at risk of crashing. More than 1,000 totally free 'Drive Smart' driver training packages (two one-hour sessions with a fully-qualified AA driving instructor) designed specifically for the Charity to help new drivers will be offered in the next six months to support the Decade of Action. According to the charity's director and AA president, Edmund King, "In the UK, contrary to public belief, teenagers are more likely to die on the roads than from stabbings or drugs. This is often due to lack of driving experience or the wrong attitude. "We believe that the free Drive Smart training will help those drivers most at risk become safer, wiser and greener drivers." The training not only helps safer driving but there will be financial benefits too from learning more economical driving techniques.
New drivers wishing to register for the free training or parents who wish to register teenagers should go to www.theaa.com/drive-smart