LANCASHIRE is the worst performing local authority at reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured on the roads, according to new figures.

It comes after research by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) revealed that 72 more people died or were very badly injured in crashes in 2013 compared with the previous year.

It brings the total number to 642 for last year, with the county council suggesting a growing interest in cycling could be behind the increase.

The region was closely followed by Kent and Cumbria, which also saw increases.

However, the number of less serious injuries in Lancashire decreased by 222 from 3,664 in 2012 and 150 fewer people were classed as casualties following smashes in 2013, down from 4,234 in 2012.

Simon Best, chief executive of the IAM, called on councils to make spending on road safety a priority.

He said: “Figures will always vary from year to year but the wide variations do suggest that some councils are much better at putting measures in place that are having a marked difference in reducing the numbers of deaths and serious injuries on their roads.

“As the economy improves spending on road safety must be seen as a priority across the whole of the UK with clear strategies in place to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads.

“Even one death or injured person on our roads is one too many,” he added.

County Coun John Fillis, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, said the long-term trend for crashes resulting in serious injury and death was ‘strongly downwards’.

He put the rise down to an increase in accidents among cyclists owing to the growing interest in the sport.

Coun Fillis said the council was investing £1million in new road safety measures over the next year, part of which would be spent on improving layouts at junctions in areas where accidents among cyclists are highest and improving drivers’ awareness of cyclists.

They also have the Drive Safer For Longer scheme for older drivers allowing them to go out with a trainer to make them aware of any problems with their driving.

The councillor added: “Everyone who uses the roads has a shared responsibility for others’ safety and we’ll also be working with the police to raise awareness of the dangers of the dangers caused by distractions such as mobile phones and headphones.”