At a parliamentary reception held at the House of Commons on 14 July, road safety charity Brake set out its vision for a future “free of the needless trauma of road death and injury”.
Julie Townsend, Brake deputy chief executive, told an audience of new and returning MPs that, following the first annual increase in road casualties of all severities in 17 years, the time has come for the government to reinstate ambitious casualty reduction targets – with the ultimate goal of reducing deaths and serious injuries on UK roads to zero.
Brake and long-time campaign partners Direct Line Insurance used the event to publish a report summarising the key findings from more than a decade of surveys of 1,000 drivers which examine driver attitudes, knowledge and behaviour in relation to safe driving, from fitness to drive to breaking traffic laws.
The report shows that the proportion of respondents who admitted to driving after one alcoholic drink (32% in 2013/51% in 2003), using a mobile phone (45% in 2013/54% in 2006), and speeding (57% in 2015/88% in 2004) have all fallen.
The policies that Brake is advocating to reduce casualties include: a “zero-tolerance drink drive limit” of 20mg alcohol per 100ml of blood; greater priority given to traffic policing and increased penalties for mobile phone use and speeding; a system of graduated driver licensing to allow new drivers to learn in a safer and more structured environment; and a “default urban speed limit of 20mph”.
Julie Townsend said: “We often hear that the UK has among the safest roads in the world. Yet after years of progress in bringing down casualties, figures for 2014 have revealed the first annual increase for 17 years.
“People on foot and bike – those travelling via the healthiest, least polluting and harmful means – have borne the brunt of the recent increase in casualties.
“In fact, if you travel by foot or bike in the UK you are far more likely to be killed or injured than in many of our European neighbours.
“There is far more we can do to make our roads as safe as they can be, where no one must pay the ultimate price for getting around.
“Global research and experience shows that measures like graduated driver licensing, 20mph limits and a lower drink drive limit are effective in preventing loss of life, and making our streets and communities safer, more pleasant places.
“We are appealing to the government to respond to the rise in casualties and seize the opportunity of preparing a new road safety strategy, by making clear that ultimately, we should be moving towards zero road deaths and injuries and ensuring everyone can get around without fear or threat.”