South Yorkshire road deaths reach lowest ever numbers

Jac Ashurst at the spot where he was knocked off his bike by a car last September
Jac Ashurst at the spot where he was knocked off his bike by a car last September
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The number of fatalities on South Yorkshire roads is the lowest since records began – but campaigners warn work still needs to be done to curb the number of collisions.

People killed in crashes last year totalled 29 – one fewer than the previous year.

South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership manager Joanne Wehrle said: “This is good news for South Yorkshire – it shows progress.

“Behind every statistic there is a story. Even though it’s just one less death than last year, it’s still one less family going through that trauma.”

The figures were welcome news to the family of schoolboy Jac Ashurst, who pulled through despite being given 36 hours to live after being knocked off his bike by a motorist last September.

“It’s a good thing that fewer people are dying, obviously, but Jac could easily have been killed,” said the nine-year-old’s brother Matthew Wheeler, 22.

“The driver wasn’t paying attention, and if you’re driving a car it’s your responsibility to be looking at the road.”

Ms Wehrle said the drop in fatality numbers was due to preventative work carried out by the Safer Roads Partnership – made up of police, local authority and agency workers – over the past decade.

The figure is less than half the 65 who died in incidents a decade ago in 2003.

“We’re now going in to schools and speaking to young people about driving at the age of 14 and 15,” she said.

“The drop has not just come out of nothing, there has been a continued decrease.

“There are all sorts of things which contribute to improving things, but it also shows that the work around education and publicity campaigns is working.”

One of the biggest successes is the drop in casualty numbers among 17- to 25-year-olds – who are regularly over-represented in the accident tables.

South Yorkshire Police Chief Superintendent Rachel Barber, chair of South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership, said: “This is testament to the hard work and dedication of our teams to try to make all our road users safer.

“Everyone has a vital role in helping us to reduce the toll of road traffic collisions.”

Bosses have vowed to do more to make roads safer, as the statistics have also shown 450 people were seriously injured and admitted to hospital on the area’s roads in 2012 – nine more than the previous year.

Joanne said: “It might be a broken finger and be classed as serious, but it could also be a brain injury which has long-lasting impact.”