Steep rise in road deaths in the Harrogate district

Editorial image.
Editorial image.

Road deaths and serious injuries in the Harrogate district are at their highest number in years, new figures reveal.

Casualties throughout the district rose from 83 in 2012 to 127 in 2013 – the largest number since 2007, according to a report published by North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) last week.

The number of cyclists involved in road casualties has also increased, reaching its highest figure since any other time in the preceding decade, and rising from seven to 20 between 2012 and 2013.

Reports to the police of pedal cyclists seriously injured in road traffic collisions across North Yorkshire saw a rise of nine per cent in a year, causing concern for road safety experts.

Road safety team leader at NYCC Honor Byford said: “Inevitably someone walking or cycling or on a motorcycle is more vulnerable and more likely to be injured in a collision than someone within a vehicle so these figures do not automatically mean that the victims caused the collision.

“There is always a likelihood of more collisions between cyclists or pedestrians and other vehicles within busy town centres with so much more traffic, vehicles and people crossing and using the same limited road space. We urge everyone to be patient, tolerant and share the road so that we are all able to get to where we want to go in safety.

“We do need cyclists and pedestrians to be sensible and watch out for themselves and we need drivers to take particular care to look out for bikers, cyclists and people.” The report details a gradual but established upward trend in pedal cyclist casualties and states that this may reflect the rising popularity of cycling and a proportionate increase in cyclists being hurt.

It also notes that, whatever the reasons, measures to address cyclists’ safety and drivers’ awareness are being taken in the county in the run up to the Tour de France and beyond.

This is particularly important for North Yorkshire’s non-built up roads with speed limits over 40mph.

The greatest number of reported collisions in 2013 occurred on these roads. Though the 941 collisions last year represented a fall of six per cent from 2012, the number of fatalities was 59 per cent higher.

From 1,535 casualties in 2013, 46 were fatalities and 289 were serious injuries.

Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “I am extremely concerned about this rise in the number of people being killed and seriously injured on the county’s roads and we are working very closely with our partners to improve road safety.

“By raising awareness about this serious issue, we want all road users to play a key role in helping our efforts. We are urging drivers, motorcyclists and people riding pedal cycles to not only pay attention to their own behaviour, but also make themselves alert to other people using the roads.

“The upcoming Grand Depart of the Tour de France will be a spectacular event for the Yorkshire area and we want everybody to have a lasting impression, particularly the expected influx of keen cyclists who will ride the routes before and after the race.

“To keep safe, we strongly encourage cyclists to make themselves fully familiar with the routes and to take every precaution before setting off on a ride.”

Fatal injuries in the Harrogate district also increased, from five to 12 between 2012 and 2013, and the total number of children killed or seriously injured rose from seven to nine in that time.

Serious injuries rose from 78 to 115, however reports of slight injuries dropped from 567 to 518, taking the total number of Harrogate road casualties down from 650 to 645.

The report, which is made up of forms filled in by police officers dealing with the crash, reveals an ‘unwelcome and worrying’ increase in the number of people killed in road collisions in North Yorkshire, rising from 31 in 2012 to 51 in 2013 – the highest number in six years.

It states that in human terms 20 more people died on the county’s roads than in 2012 – an increase of 65 per cent.

The number of motorcycle riders killed rose dramatically by 220 per cent from a record low of five in 2012 to 16 in 2013, possibly as a result of a warmer, dryer summer.

Older drivers killed in county-wide road incidents almost doubled in that time, rising from six to 11.

Executive Member for Road Safety Coun Gareth Dadd (Con) said: “These are very alarming and worrying statistics.

“Even allowing for the fact that the total for 2012 was an all-time low, there are still far too many people dying unnecessarily on our roads.

“These figures underline the vital importance of all road users being constantly aware of their surroundings, of their speed, of their driving or riding behaviour, of the presence of others.”

However, the total number of reported casualties in road collisions in North Yorkshire dropped by four per cent, as did the number of people seriously injured.

The total number of children killed or seriously injured in the country decreased by 25 per cent, and total reported child casualties dropped by 16 per cent with no children killed in road collisions in 2013.

As a result of these reductions, the number of people killed or seriously injured in reported road collisions in 2013 was 26 per cent lower than the 2005-2009 average, and for fatalities alone the 2013 figure was 14 per cent lower than the 2005-2009 average.

What’s your view on our road safety record? What could we do to improve safety for drivers and cyclists?

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