ROAD safety among 17 to 25 year-old drivers is to become a key priority for firefighters – after it was revealed Lancashire crews now deal with more car crashes fatalities than blaze deaths.

In an important milestone for the Lancashire Telegraph’s Wasted Lives Campaign, the county’s fire and rescue service is pledging to making road safety a greater priority over the next five years.

And Assistant Chief Fire Officer Peter O’Brien said particular emphasis would be placed on reducing risks among young drivers in Lancashire.

Mr O’Brien has acknowledged the contribution that firefighters are already making to the Wasted Lives campaign, as part of the Lancashire Road Safety Partnership.

The shift comes as new figures, presented to Lancashire Combined Fire Authority’s planning committee, spell out the changing demands faced by the county’s crews.

Last year the service dealt with 12 fatalities and 177 casualties from fires across Lancashire – either caused deliberately or accidentally.

But in attending more than 800 road traffic collisions, mainly to release trapped motorists, they witnessed 17 deaths and 312 seriously hurt or injured cases, over the same period.

And while brigade chiefs are adamant fire prevention work will not be compromised, they are now vowing to pay extra attention to road safety initiatives such as Wasted Lives.

Mr O’Brien says in a strategy report: "Fire risk has demonstrably reduced and whilst significant challenges remain, it is considered that an increased emphasis on road safety prevention is now possible without compromising fire risk reduction activity which, it is emphasised, is also planned to increase over the same period.

"This growth in preventative road safety has grown with a particular emphasis on 17-25 year olds; an approach which reflects the higher risk status of this group."

Alongside Wasted Lives, firefighters are also delivering a customised programme to Prince’s Trust development programmes, which the service runs.

Mr O’Brien adds: "It is evident that road traffic collisions pose a significant risk in Lancashire and that Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service has a role to play in a number of respects."

He says that the service is ‘uniquely-placed’ to offer vital support to a number of different organisations, in tackling road safety issues.