Scotland is ‘deadliest place to go for a walk’

Pedestrian deaths in Scotland increased by a third last year. Picture: Complimentary
Pedestrian deaths in Scotland increased by a third last year. Picture: Complimentary
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SCOTLAND has Europe’s worst record for pedestrian deaths in towns and cities, campaigners claimed yesterday, as new official figures showed the total soared by one-third last year.

Living Streets, the former Pedestrians Association, described the increase from 43 to 57 as “worrying”.

It said the rise meant pedestrians now accounted for 68 per cent of road deaths in built-up areas against 56 per cent in 2011.

The group said the European average was 37 per cent in 2011 – the latest available figures – when Ireland had the highest rate of 57 per cent.

Keith Irving, head of Living Streets Scotland, said: “What is clear from these statistics is pedestrians are still the most vulnerable road users.

“National and local government have to recognise that Scotland has the worst record in Europe for pedestrian fatalities in our towns and cities.

“Measures such as government support for the Responsible Parking Bill, ensuring safe crossing points and enforcing slower traffic speeds would demonstrate a commitment to keeping pedestrians safer.”

He added that the ageing population and increased traffic speeds may be fuelling the rise in deaths.

The figures were included in Reported Road Casualties Scotland 2012, after a provisional report published in June.

It confirmed overall casualties have dropped to a new record low, but the number of cyclists killed increased, by two to nine.

Total road deaths fell by 11 to 174. Motorcyclist deaths were down by 12 to 21, but serious injuries increased by 49 to 342.

Derek Halden, chairman of the Scottish Transport Studies Group think-tank, said: “Although it might look like the number of pedestrians killed or seriously injured has fallen by nearly 40 per cent over the last decade, most of this can be accounted for by the large fall in the number of walking trips, which has also fallen by more than 30 per cent.

“In contrast, car trips have remained at the same level while the number of drivers and passengers killed or seriously injured has fallen by about 50 per cent. Scotland therefore remains near the bottom of the international league in pedestrian casualties per head of population.

“What is needed is a new energy in road safety planning. Some authorities are spending virtually nothing to implement road safety measures like safe routes to schools, stations, parks and town centres.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency said: “The latest road casualties statistics show the Scottish Government has achieved a lot, but there is still work to do, particularly around pedestrian safety.

“Figures show Scotland has the 12th lowest pedestrian casualty rate in a comparison of 39 countries in western Europe and elsewhere. Road safety is everyone’s responsibility. With this in mind, we would encourage pedestrians to adopt safe practices.”

He added that councils were also being encouraged to consider 20mph zones in residential areas.