The number of people killed on Britain’s roads has fallen by 12% from 2,538 to 2,222 in 2009, with experts suggesting more than 550 were killed while driving for work.
Just under half of all fatalities were car occupants, 23% were pedestrians and a further 21% motorcyclists.
However, while the number of deaths among car users in 2009 was 1,059, 16% less than in the previous year, the reduction has been welcomed with a degree of caution.
The figures come in the wake of growing concerns from road safety organisations about potential Government cuts.
“We need a bold strategy that spells out the importance of investing in road safety, despite government cuts,” said Ellen Booth, campaigns officer for Brake, the road safety charity.
The Department for Transport has announced a 27% cut in road safety revenue funding and a £17.2m cut in capital grants for road safety.
But every death on UK roads costs £1.68m, according to Neil Greig, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) director of policy and research.
“The impact of casualty reduction targets has been enormous,” explained Greig. “However, punitive cuts in road safety budgets will jeopardise these huge financial and social gains.”
Meanwhile, Europe’s transport ministers have met in Brussels to discuss work-related road safety against a backdrop of an estimated 39% of fatal work accidents in the EU-15 countries occurring on the road.
The EU is due to unveil a new European Action Programme for the period 2010 to 2020 in July and the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) is calling on transport ministers to consider the need for new targets and measures that address driving for work and commuting to and from work.
It says the European Commission should integrate measures focussing on reducing death and injury whilst driving for work in the next Community Health and Safety at Work Strategy due in 2013, as well as the next Road Safety Action Programme.
In addition, it says the EU should ensure that employers are improving health and safety of workers by including the risk of using a vehicle for work, both on-site and off-site, as part of their work risk assessments.
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