Road casualty figures soar with more killed and seriously injured

The Road Casualties in Kent Annual Review shows a significant increase in the number of people hurt or killed on our roads over the previous year’s statistics.

A string of road accidents and deaths in recent months suggest these figures could be set to get even worse next year.

The new figures, which cover the year of 2017, show that 286 crashes were recorded on the streets of Tunbridge Wells, up from 265 in 2016, but it is the severity of the incidents that is alarming.

In 2016, 36 people were seriously hurt or lost their lives following either a collision between two cars or by a pedestrian being hit by a vehicle. In 2017, though, those figures shot up to 58 deaths or serious injuries, a leap of 62 per cent.

Of these incidents, seven deaths were recorded in 2017, compared to just the one in 2016 – a rise of 600 per cent.

Things are no better for the county as a whole. There were 811 deaths or serious injuries across Kent throughout 2017, and while this is less than the previous year’s 887, it is up 179 on 2015 which saw only 632.

“These figures are truly shocking,” said Lib Dem councillor, Peter Lidstone.

He said he has been pushing Kent County Council and the Joint Transportation Board to do something about the number of accidents on the borough’s roads.

“The council seems to have this vison to just keep Kent moving, and as long as the traffic is flowing, everything is all right, but there is so much more they can do.”

Cllr Lidstone wants the council to increase the use of 20mph limits on residential streets, improve public transport links and make areas more pedestrian-friendly by introducing more traffic calming measures. He also believes individuals have a responsibility.

“Collectively, many of us are always rushing so perhaps we need to slow down, and the fact the streets are full of parked cars is also causing conflict.

“Unless something gives soon, we are going to see more and more deaths and injuries,” he warned.

In fact, the last few months have seen a string of fatal road traffic collisions. Only last month, the Times reported on the tragic death of 23-year-old Lydia Smith, who died in her Ford Fiesta when it was involved in a collision on January 26.

The day after Lydia’s death, 50-year-old Amanda Guile died in Lamberhurst following a crash involving her Vauxhall Corsa and a Range Rover Evoque.

Earlier this year, Tonbridge pensioner Steve Hilder also died when he was hit by a car in High Brooms, and only last week, police appealed for witnesses after a teenager was left seriously hurt after being hit by a taxi on the A26 St John’s Road.

Inspector Chris Mayers from Kent Police said: “From a local policing perspective, we work very closely with agencies such as Kent County Council to enforce the law and also run seasonal road safety campaigns.

“Whilst clearly there continues to be an important role for police in educating people and also prosecuting drivers for criminal behaviour, it is equally important that motorists take responsibility for their own actions and fully understand the consequences are not just about being caught.

“It is all too easy to become a complacent driver; however, the reality is that we all have the potential to take life or cause serious injury every time we get behind the wheel. Motorists are not only responsible for their own safety, but that of their passengers, fellow road users and also pedestrians.”

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