The government has been slammed for its “shocking lack of progress” on road safety, after it emerged that road casualty numbers increased last year.

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Figures released today (September 27) show that the number of people killed on UK roads rose to 1,793 in 2017 – an increase of one on 2016’s death toll and the highest number since 2011.

Meanwhile, almost 25,000 people were seriously injured over the same period, marking an increase of three percent on 2016’s figures.

The figures also showed that motorcyclists now make up 19 percent of road deaths in Britain, up nine percent on 2016, while pedestrian deaths rose by five percent.

Ambulance on M1 motorway Watford UK

According to the RAC, the “sobering” figures highlighted a need for government to take action and promote the uptake of life-saving in-car technology.

RAC road safety spokesperson Pete Williams said: “Today’s figures serve as a stark reminder of how much work there is still to do to improve safety of the UK’s roads.

“There has now been no substantial reduction in fatalities since 2010 with the numbers killed on the roads remaining stubbornly high. It also remains the case that casualties among some vulnerable road user groups, specifically pedestrians and motorcyclists, are rising which is a concern.

“With traffic levels rising, and people’s dependency on the car also increasing, a shift in focus is needed at both national and local levels to begin to tackle the problem.

Airbag exploded in car accident

“Technology has an important role to play – autonomous emergency braking, for example, has the potential to reduce casualties significantly but it will take many years to become commonplace. Nonetheless, we encourage drivers to do their bit by insisting that any new car they buy is fitted with the technology. And on a day-to-day basis, it is every driver’s responsibility to ensure they are driving safely by not breaking speed limits and reducing distractions in their vehicles so their attention remains firmly on the road.”

Road safety charity Brake, meanwhile, also called on the government to improve road safety, suggesting that increased law enforcement and lower speed limits may help.

“Today’s figures highlight the shocking lack of progress on road safety improvement in Britain,” said the organisation’s director of campaigns, Joshua Harris. “This stagnation must be arrested and yet the government sits on its hands and rejects the introduction of policies which are proven to save lives – for the individuals, families and whole communities devastated by road crashes, this is simply not good enough.

Police traffic stop

“Our most vulnerable road users, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, remain at dangerously high risk on our roads, paying the price for the dominance of the motor car in our lives. The government must invest in active travel to give people safe and healthy ways to get around and focus on improving the safety of our roads – starting with lower speed limits.

“Our laws are only as strong as their enforcement and roads policing is fundamental to improving UK road safety. Shockingly, the number of traffic officers fell 24 percent from 2012 to 2017 and the stagnation in road safety performance shadows this trend. We urge the government to make roads policing a national investment priority, with a visible police presence catching and deterring illegal driving and cameras preventing the scourge of speeding.”

Police car closes road where vehicle flipped onto roof Shropshire