THERE were more deaths and serious injuries on the St Helens road network in 2011 than in any of the previous six years.
But, despite St Helens having the highest percentage increase in serious crash rates nationally compared to 2010, Town Hall chiefs insist this was because 2010 was an exceptionally quiet year.
In 2010, there were 45 people killed or seriously injured on local roads, compared to a seven-year high of 73 last year.
Last year’s figure is comparable to the figures in 2005, 2006 and 2008, though, when there were 70 people killed or seriously injured locally.
Crucially, the average number of people killed or seriously injured on St Helens’ roads in 2006/07 actually dropped by more than 15 per cent in 2010/11.
The total number of injury accidents in the borough has also fallen from 631 in 2001 to 360 last year and the total number of casualties from 950 to 501.
A spokeswoman for St Helens Council said the 62 per cent increase in local serious crash rates from 2010 to 2011 was misleading.
She said: “2010 was an exceptional year, whereby our nationally set target figure for that year was 62 and the actual figure was 45, the best on Merseyside, which was always likely to rise the following year. Due to the random nature of accident occurrence, the annual figures do fluctuate considerably, and obviously the smaller the numbers, the larger the percentage fluctuation.”
Meanwhile, bosses at the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) have called for national road safety budgets to be increased.
IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “It is concerning that road deaths and serious injuries rose last year. Road accidents usually drop during an economic recession, so this rise after continuous reductions over the last ten years, is particularly concerning.
“Ministers should take this as a serious warning. Cutting road safety education and reductions in local authority spending all suggest that road safety isn’t a major priority for government.
“We need targets on reducing casualties for local councils so that performance can be checked. This would help make sure councils look at new and innovative ways to save lives on our roads.”