MANY of North Yorkshire's country roads are undeniably beautiful. Small wonder they are a magnet for motorists and motorcyclists.

With the Dales, the Moors, the Vale and the Wolds to choose from, there is probably nowhere in England where the lure of the open road is quite as strong.

Unfortunately, the county's roads are also highly dangerous. In 2005 alone, they claimed the lives of 85 people - 21 of them motorcyclists.

The death toll among bikers was so bad a few years ago that The Press launched a campaign, Arrive Alive, to raise awareness about road safety.

Today, there is encouraging news. Deaths on the county's roads fell by 20 per cent last year. The number of motorcyclists killed dropped 38 per cent.

Police attribute their success in driving down road deaths to a combination of training, persuasion, hard-hitting road safety videos - and strict enforcement. They are to be congratulated.

But, as Insp Chris Charlton says today, now is not the time to celebrate. The 68 people who died on our roads last year is still 68 too many. And in addition to those who lost their lives, there is the dreadful toll of serious injuries and ruined lives.

It is important now to build on this year's success.

Too many road accidents are still caused by careless, inconsiderate or downright foolish driving - and too many young, inexperienced drivers are still losing their lives.

We all have a responsibility to help reduce that toll. As motorists, we must drive more sensibly, and as parents we must ensure our children grow up to be good, careful drivers.

Then police will have a fighting chance of reducing still further the grim catalogue of yearly deaths.