THE number of child casualties in car crashes in Fife increased in 2022 and drugs made the list of top 10 contributing factors to the collisions for the first time. 

One youngster died, eight suffered serious injuries and there were 27 slight injuries, all up from the previous year, although the general trend is a long-term decline in the number of people hurt and killed on our roads.

Steven Sellars, from Fife Council's transportation department, said:  “I think we would all agree that the desire to drive these numbers down is particularly prevalent in this category.

"It does make you think even more when it is a child as it is tragic and you do feel for those involved.

"The number of crashes involving journeys to and from school are very, very small.

"The vast majority of child casualties happen within residential streets in the early evening period and over weekends.” 

He said this was one of many reasons behind the drive for 20mph residential speed limits. 

A report to the environment, transportation and climate change scrutiny committee last week said that the number of road casualties in Fife has steadily fallen, albeit there was a rise from the record low figures of 2021 during the pandemic.

When it came to what caused the crashes, according to data from Police Scotland, there were two firsts: alcohol didn't make the top 10 list and drugs did. 

The top 10 contributory factors in 2022 were: driver failed to look (26 per cent); careless /reckless driving (14 per cent); failed to judge other person’s path or speed (13 per cent); loss of control (9 per cent); poor turn or manoeuvre (7 per cent); weather conditions (6 per cent) casualty failed to look (5 per cent); dazzling sun (4 per cent); impaired by drugs (4 per cent); and travelling too fast for the conditions (4 per cent).

Cllr Darren Watt said road safety was a "huge concern" in the Cowdenbeath ward.

He said: "We have the A909 in my ward that runs from Kelty to Burntisland, through Cowdenbeath High Street, and it's often dubbed one of the most dangerous roads in Scotland.

"It's a complex road, very rural in parts and urban through the high street, there are many factors but I don't think we do enough to address some of the obvious concerns, in terms of helping to educate drivers including appropriate signage, clearing up debris and ensuring that the roads themselves are in a good condition."

He continued: "I personally don’t think engineering interventions are enough. 

"I think we all agree there isn't such a thing as a dangerous road, it's people's behaviour and the contributing factors back that up.

“At the end of the day I think we have an obligation to educate and encourage drivers to behave more appropriately.

"We can only do so much, especially if they’re impaired by drugs or other factors, but we still have a huge obligation to do what we can to make roads as safe as possible.”