THERE has been a rise in the number of people killed and seriously injured in road crashes, but Wiltshire remains behind national trends. Information provided from 2018 to a fire service committee sitting in Devizes showed that 35 people were killed in car crashes, of which 17 people were classed as vulnerable.

This included seven motorcyclists, seven pedestrians, two cyclists and one child.

A further 262 people were seriously injured. Among them were 146 vulnerable people, the majority of which were motorcyclists.

Cllr Paul Oatway said: “The increase in fatalities is concerning.”

Ian Jeary, of Dorset and Wiltshire Fire Service said: “We are below the national trend but because of our rural location we have a higher chance of a crash becoming serious or fatal because many of the long sweeping roads lends itself to high speed driving. The number of serious road incidents involving young people who we target for the safe drive stay alive which is 16-24 year olds are decreasing, it is the older age group that is rising."

Safe Drive Stay Alive is a flag ship programme that goes to schools and colleges to teach thousands of young adults about the dangers of driving.

Despite its success some concerns have been raised around future funding, after future funding from Honda was thrown into doubt following the announcement of the Swindon plant closure.

Money to support the campaign from Honda towards funding the Safe Drive Stay Alive campaign will run out in 2020 leaving a funding gap for Dorset and Wiltshire Fire Service.

Mr Jeary said: “The Honda money runs out in 2019/20 for obvious reasons and although Arvell are long term partners, they are looking to fund alternative programmes as well as safe drive stay alive. They are not looking to increase funding to take up the slack.”

Safe Drive Stay Alive costs around £30k each year. £22.5k has been secured for the year 2020/21including £7.5k from parish councils and £7.5k from Wiltshire Council. The extra £11k will come from reserves.

A Honda spokesman said: "Honda of the UK Manufacturing Ltd’s (Honda) is proud to support Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service. In light of the factory closure in 2021, a decision on future funding of this activity is yet to be made."