ALMOST 200 people were killed or seriously injured in road accidents in Somerset last year, figures show.

Department for Transport (DfT) data shows 22 people were killed and 164 people seriously injured on Somerset's roads in 2017.

In six of those accidents children were taken to hospital.

The overall figure for people killed and seriously injured has decreased from 222, the yearly average from 2010 to 2014, to 186 last year.

The DfT uses the yearly average to measure change over time.

The number of road casualties in Somerset, which includes minor injuries, has decreased by 11% over that time, to 1,464 incidents.

The data includes any injury sustained with a vehicle on the road. The injuries do not have to involve cars.

It could be a bike colliding with a pedestrian, or someone falling over while cycling.

When patients are taken to hospital it is classified as a serious injury.

Broadly, the number of injuries on the road has been decreasing across England as car technology improves.

However, while there are fewer accidents, there are more severe injuries.

The number of people killed or seriously injured in accidents increased by 12% over the time period.

The data comes just weeks after two people died in a crash on the M5 in Somerset and a week after Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Liz Truss, told the Conservative party conference the Government should 'look again' at raising motorway speed limits to 80mph in a bid to improve productivity.

She said: “I'd like us to look again at things like our speed limits on the motorway.

“We have often toyed with the idea of raising it to 80mph, why don't we look at that again?”

Speaking afterwards, Ms Truss said hiking the limit would lead to “productivity improvements” because motorists “are wasting less of their lives driving”.

RAC road safety spokesman, Pete Williams, said: "This new data makes for sobering reading – there has now been no substantial reduction in fatalities since 2010, with the numbers killed on the roads remaining stubbornly high.

"It also remains the case that casualties among some vulnerable road user groups, specifically pedestrians and motorcyclists, are rising, which is a concern."

In Somerset, two pedestrians were killed. Of those seriously injured, 19 were pedestrians, 22 were cyclists and 25 were riding motorbikes.

Mr Williams continued: "Speed limit compliance also remains a real problem, with more than half of vehicles recorded speeding on 30mph roads and nearly one in five drivers travelling at 30mph or more in a 20mph zone.

"With traffic levels rising, and people’s dependency on the car also increasing, a shift in focus is needed at both national and local levels to begin to tackle the problem.

"On a day-to-day basis, it is every driver’s responsibility to ensure they are driving safely by not breaking speed limits and reducing distractions in their vehicles so their attention remains firmly on the road."

Somerset’s casualty rate is greater than the South West's average.

It is lower than the England casualty rate.

And road safety charity Brake called on the Government to lower speed limits on roads.

A spokesman said: "Our most vulnerable road users, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, remain at dangerously high risk on our roads, paying the price for the dominance of the car in our lives.

"Pedestrian deaths increased to their highest level this decade while motorcyclists now account for nearly a fifth of all road deaths, despite their small numbers.

"The Government must invest in active travel to give people safe and healthy ways to get around and focus on improving the safety of our roads – starting with lower speed limits.”