A warning has been issued after new figures out today reveal an increase in the number of people killed on South Yorkshire's roads.
Road users in the county have been urged to look out for each other and take extra care in a bid to save lives.
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To coincide with the release of last year's road casualty statistics in South Yorkshire later this morning, road users have been reminded of their responsibility to keep themselves and others safe.
Ahead of the official release of the figures at 11am, South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership said the overall number of collisions on the roads in 2017 was down on the previous year, but the number of fatalities went up.
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The Partnership said the number of people injured on the roads dropped below 4,000 for the first time, but of those, the number who were seriously injured went up significantly.
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The number of incidents involving 17 to 24 year-olds is following a pattern of overall decline, with a 17 per cent reduction from 2016 to 2017, but the age group still makes up the biggest proportion of the total number of casualties.
The overall increase in the figures for the number of people killed or seriously injured on the roads is thought to be linked to a recently-adopted recording system known as CRASH, which has standardised the way in which serious injuries are categorised.
Superintendent Simon Wanless, Chairman of the South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership, said: "We are still waiting for national casualty statistics to be released, but early indicators suggest that other police forces who have started using CRASH have seen an increase in their own killed or seriously injured figures.
"It is possible that casualty statistics have been artificially low in previous years, as before now it was at the discretion of the officer attending a collision to assess the
level of injury.
"While we are concerned about the increase in these numbers, we are confident that the figures are more reflective of the reality in South Yorkshire, and give us better
information to help target and improve the effectiveness of our education and enforcement activities."
Chief Inspector Russell Hughes, who heads up South Yorkshire Police’s road policing group said, "When serious collisions occur my team are always on scene, and there are certain contributing factors, often illegal behaviours, that we see time and time again.
"The police have always had powers to enforce road traffic laws but a recent change in legislation, around drug driving and increases to penalties for the use of a mobile
phone whilst driving, has highlighted the dangers of these behaviours.
"In spite of this we continue to see people using their mobile phones while driving and my officers have also been using their roadside testing kits on drivers they suspect are under the influence of drugs.
"We cannot stress enough how dangerous these driving behaviours are. Being involved in a crash because you are distracted, or in an unfit state to drive, will have
lasting, maybe even fatal, consequences for you, your family and the others involved."
Joanne Wehrle, Safer Roads Manager at South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership, said: "Our road safety team works countywide to educate people and give them the skills to become safer road users.
"The data and anecdotal feedback from the police and the community makes it clear that we still have a great deal of work to do.
"Road users can do a lot to help and protect themselves by abiding by some key rules; drivers can ensure that they drive to the conditions of the road and don’t speed, never use a phone while at the wheel, don’t drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs and always ensure that they and their passengers wear a seatbelt."