Making Britain’s Roads Safer – Have Your Say!
Following the recent publication of the results of the DSA’s Learning to Drive Consultation comes the Government’s latest document seeking views on the vision, targets and measures for improving road safety in Great Britain beyond 2010.
“Making Britain’s Roads Safer” is the title of the consultation document, and we would urge you all to get involved and make your opinions known. The full document and related research articles can be found here. The closing date for this consultation is 14th July 2009.
The key challenges for the new strategy are as follows:
- reducing the number of road deaths, which have fallen at a slower rate than serious injuries;
- pedestrian and cyclist casualties in our towns and cities – particularly in deprived communities;
- protecting children, particularly in deprived areas, and young people, who are greatly over-represented in the casualty statistics;
- protecting motorcyclists, who represent 20% of road fatalities but just 1% of traffic;
- safety on rural roads: 62% of all road fatalities in 2007 occurred on rural roads, which carry only 42% of traffic;
- variations in safety from area to area and road to road;
- poor road user behaviour amongst a minority, where drink-driving and failure to wear a seatbelt remain a problem;
- illegal and inappropriate speed: excessive speed was recorded as a contributory factor in 26% of road fatalities in 2007.
The Government is on target with their aim to reduce the number of road casualties on the UK’s roads by 40% (from the average of those from 1994-1998), but with nearly 3000 people still dying on the roads each year, they are looking to improve our road safety record even further.
In order to achieve this, the Government is looking at the following:
- Changes to road safety enforcement, including improvements to the enforcement of speed and drink and drug driving laws.
- Gaining a better understanding of the motivations behind the behaviours of the most dangerous road users, and the characteristics of the individuals undertaking them.
- Working more closely with other organisations to improve road design, vehicles and education in order to reduce the chance of mistakes on the roads having serious or fatal consequences.
- Improving the safety of rural roads, where 60% of all road deaths occur – this will probably include the reduction of the speed limit on the most dangerous roads from 60mph to 50mph.
- Improving the safety in urban areas where pedestrian and cyclist deaths are concentrated – this is most likely to be dealt with by reducing the speed limit to 20mph in residential areas (which are not part of a through route) and around areas like schools and markets where pedestrian and cyclist movements are highest.
- Improving vehicle safety by looking at the effectiveness of existing vehicle technology and the development of advanced crash avoidance systems.
- As well as promoting European vehicle safety regulations, the DfT aims to look at ways of providing better consumer information and raising awareness among the motoring public.
- Support responsible road use – this may be achieved by the introduction of Think! campaigns challenging complacency about road safety and encouraging people to make positive safety choices, as well as further education in nurseries, schools and colleges (including the introduction of the pre-driver qualification)
- Tackling irresponsible behaviour (e.g. drink driving, drug driving, failure to wear a seatbelt and careless or dangerous driving)
- Continuing pursuit and seizure of untaxed and uninsured vehicles and of the vehicles of unlicenced drivers.
The following targets have therefore been proposed:
- to reduce road deaths by at least 33% by 2020 compared to the baseline of the 2004-08 average number of road deaths;
- to reduce the annual total of serious injuries on our roads by 2020 by at least 33% compared to the baseline.
The Government also considers it important to maintain their progress on child road safety and to tackle the pressing problem of young people’s safety, and therefore propose a more challenging target for children and young people:
- to reduce the annual total of road deaths and serious injuries to children and young people (aged 0-17) by at least 50% against a baseline of the 2004-08 average by 2020
In order to improve health, the environment and congestion, the Government is also keen to encourage more walking and cycling. They wish to reduce the risk to the individual walker or cyclist, and to take into account expected growth in activity – they are therefore proposing a target based on the rate of casualties:
- to reduce by at least 50% by 2020 the rate of KSI per km travelled by pedestrians and cyclists, compared with the 2004-08 average.
The views received in response to the proposals put forward will influence the final shape of the Department’s next road safety strategy, which is due to be published at the end of the year.