THE number of people killed on Dorset's roads increased by almost 50 per cent in a year.

It is the fourth-highest increase in the country and has prompted safety chiefs to warn of the increased likelihood of dying on rural roads.

The figures, released by the Department for Transport and analysed by Lindar Media, show that 28 people were killed in accidents on roads in the Dorset Police area in 2015, up from 19 in 2014.

There were more than 2,000 total casualties in accidents in the area; 387 people were seriously injured, up from 371 the previous year.

Nationally, the number of road deaths decreased by two per cent, while the number of people seriously injured went down by three percent. The fact that Dorset goes against this trend is "worrying," the Institute of Advanced Motorists said, and called on authorities and drivers to take responsibility.

Neil Greig,policy and research director at the IAM, said: "These figures for Dorset are indeed worrying when the UK trend has been slightly downwards in 2015.

"Most fatalities take place on country roads and as a predominantly rural county this means that risk of death will always be slightly higher in an area such as Dorset.

"It can be a fine line between a death or a serious injury these days as modern cars protect their occupants so well. Ensuring that roads and cars work together to maximise safety is a key part of the ‘Safe System’ approach which is being adopted across the UK.

"This means that Dorset County Council and Highways England must work together to remove or protect solid roadside objects, improve junctions and upgrade roads to the most modern standards.

"This will take time and long term funding so in the meantime all drivers can play their part by taking full responsibility for their behaviour on the roads of Dorset.”

The Dorset County Council area, which does not include Poole and Bournemouth, also saw an increase in the number of fatalities, up from 16 in 2014 to 22 in 2015, an increase of almost 38 percent.

Michael Potter, DCC's collision reduction team manager, said: “During 2015 there were 280 people killed or seriously injured on roads in the Dorset County Council area; 23 killed and 257 seriously injured.

“This is a 17 per cent increase on 2014, when 239 people were killed or seriously injured.

“The reasons for this change are very difficult to determine as the increase or decrease in casualties can be influenced by a wide variety of factors, most of which are outside of our control.

“However, work has already begun to analyse 2015 data in detail to try to understand the change and see if there is anything we can do about it.”