I’m quite looking forward to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – Mrs Thom has been planning some sort of street party, and I’m sure we will all have a good time.
Road safety group the Institute of Advanced Motorists is also celebrating the Jubilee, with a look at how roads and road safety have changed since the Queen came to the throne sixty years ago.
It points to figures from the Department for Transport, revealing that since 1952, over 313,000 people have died on UK roads. Back then, 13 people a day died on our roads, compared to five a day now. When you take increased vehicle numbers into account, it seems that the roads are actually six times safer nowadays, which can only be good news.
Today’s roads would be beyond recognition to drivers from 1952, says the IAM. The main difference would be the sheer volume of traffic - vehicle numbers have steadily increased from four million to 34 million in the last 60 years. There were also no motorways in 1952, with the first one being introduced in 1958, and the speed limits were different - the current motorway speed limit of 70mph was only set in 1967.
Many important road safety laws have been brought in during the Queen’s reign, including the MOT test, drink drive limit, and compulsory seatbelt and motorcycle helmet wearing. New laws are in the pipeline too, including proposed legislation to create a specific drug driving offence.
The IAM welcomes the achievements of the past 60 years, but does raise a note of caution.
“Last year there were 1,850 fatalities on our roads. All of them were preventable,” said IAM chief executive Simon Best. “Spending on road safety and roads must remain a priority, to keep the UK at the top of the world road safety league table.”
I’ll raise a glass to that!