Robert Gifford, executive director of PACTS, says the Government’s focus on austerity is putting lives at risk, and that there is a ‘lack of confidence’ in its Strategic Framework for Road Safety.
Mr Gifford’s comments accompany the launch of a new PACTS report published today (11 May). The report is the third in the PACTS’ series ‘Tackling the Deficit’, which examines the impact of the Government’s austerity programme on road safety.
This report, ‘Checking the Health of Road Safety’, includes an analysis of policy proposals during the last year and the results of a survey undertaken jointly with ADEPT (the Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transportation) and TAG (the Local Authorities Technical Advisors Group).
Compared to this time last year, 65% of local authorities have seen reductions in the budget allocated to road safety engineering, with a reduction in output of 60%.
More than 62% saw a reduction in staffing between 2010/11 and 2011/12, and more than a third have seen these reductions continue in the current year. 50% of councils say that budget reductions have put their statutory duty to promote road safety at risk.
When asked about the impact of the current Strategic Framework, 44% thought it had had no effect on road safety, with 39% believing that the impact had been negative.
Commenting on the findings, Robert Gifford, executive director of PACTS, said: “This report has a clear message to Government: the focus on austerity is putting lives at risk.
“The years 2007-2010 saw substantial falls in road deaths reflecting falls in both traffic and Gross Domestic Product. However, deaths rose in the first six months of 2011 and flat lined in the third quarter. This suggests, as the European Commission concluded earlier this year, that road deaths will rise in Great Britain in 2011 for the first time since 2003.
“This rise is especially worrying as the country is still in recession. Historically, deaths rise as economic output increases, not as it falls. The Government should be deeply concerned by this change in course.
“Ministers should also be worried by the apparent lack of confidence in the much vaunted framework document published last year. This has clearly failed to gain professional support.
“PACTS believes that we need a new national debate about the future of road safety, based on the principles that road deaths are preventable and that, where measures are both cost-effective and achievable, society has a moral and economic responsibility to act for the public benefit.”
Click here to read the full report.