Budget cuts threaten casualty reduction: RAC Foundation

14.29 | 7 March 2011 | | 1 comment

Britain faces a possible increase in road deaths because of cuts to the road safety budget and traffic growth caused by economic recovery, according to a report from the RAC Foundation.

The report, ‘Tackling the deficit. Where next for road safety?’, was compiled for the RAC Foundation by PACTS (the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety).

The report found that nine out of 10 road safety professionals think reduced spending will harm road safety projects and more than half believe a loss of expertise will mean there will be no further falls in the number of casualties. A number of respondents also fear that the number of people killed and injured could actually rise.

In the wake of the Comprehensive Spending Review, PACTS surveyed in detail 50 road safety professionals working for local authorities, police forces, UK Fire and Rescue services, academic bodies or consultancies.

As a result of budget cuts, councils have already reported examples of: 

  • Cutting road safety engineering spending by 60-80%.
  • Abolishing or reducing the number of school crossing patrols.
  • Switching off safety cameras.
  • Reducing road safety education programmes, including those aimed at pedestrians and cyclists.

The report concludes it is vital that government sets out a firm strategy for road safety over the next decade in its forthcoming Strategic Road Safety Framework. The previous 10-year plan came to an end in March 2010.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Britain has made huge strides in cutting road deaths over recent years, but further casualty reduction is not guaranteed. Reduced budgets and more traffic could mean more people killed rather than less.

“To avoid this, government must prioritise road safety and send out a clear message to councils that this is an important area of policy. It must also set bold targets for cutting death and injury so that safety professionals have something to strive for.”

Rob Gifford, executive director of PACTS, said: “Great Britain has a long commitment to reducing death and injury on the roads. We need to maintain that commitment even in challenging economic circumstances.

“Road crashes are preventable events. By focusing on cutting these further, we can reduce demand on the health service and enhance the nation’s economic capability.”

Neil Greig,IAM director of policy and research, said: "Cutting budgets for road safety is short-sighted economics. Meeting casualty reduction targets has halved road deaths over the past 20 years, saving the economy around £50 billion.

"Achieving similar targets for road deaths by 2020 will save 2,500 lives and over £4 billion. Investing in road safety saves the country money so funding being taken away from this area will ultimately cost money and lives. The Parliamentary Council is right to call for continued investment in road safety and demanding casualty reduction targets."

Click here to download the report or contact Philip Gomm, head of external communications RAC Foundation, on 020 7747 3486.


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    * Cutting road safety engineering by 60 – 80%.
    * Abolishing or reducing the number of school crossing patrols.
    * Switching off safety cameras.
    * Reducing road safety education programmes, including those aimed at pedestrians and cyclists.

    Some local politicians in some areas stated that they had faced stark choices – switch off safety cameras so that child services could be protected. Ironically in other areas local politicians are abolishing school crossing patrols.

    I guess you can rationalise and justify anything if it’s your pet hate, or your pet project. Am I being cynical? Or maybe just an observation.

    Mark, Wiltshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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