While councils in England are slashing their road safety budgets harder than many other services, the public value road safety education, training and publicity and would support the re-introduction of road safety targets.
These are among the key findings of a report published yesterday (1 May) by the IAM which shows that councils cut their road safety budget by an average of 15% (£23m) last year compared to average spending cuts of 6% for other services.
The cuts affect services including driver retraining courses, training and information for young drivers, safe routes to schools schemes and school crossing patrol services.
However, a public survey which forms part of the report shows the importance the public places on road safety education, training and publicity and clearly indicates that they would welcome the re-introduction of road safety targets.
Simon Best, IAM chief executive, described the cuts in road safety investment as ‘deeply worrying’ and ‘making no sense’.
Alan Kennedy, chair of Road Safety GB, said that the challenge for road safety professionals is to ‘work in a more creative way’, but that they remain committed to ‘providing a high quality professional service’.
The report, ‘The end of the road? Local investment in road safety in England’, shows that more than half of English councils cut their spending on road safety and traffic management by more than 10%. Of the 152 councils contacted, 81 replied.
The report highlights huge variations from council to council. For example, Camden Council in London cut road safety spending by more than 70% (£4m), whereas neighbouring Islington Council increased funding for road safety and traffic management by £134,000.
Simon Best said: “Austerity is forcing councils to make difficult choices, but the fact that these cuts only represent the first year of savings under the coalition’s spending review is deeply worrying. Cutting road safety so hard makes no sense. The average wage of a lollipop lady is £3,000 a year while the cost of each road fatality is £1.6m, so the returns on investment are huge.
Alan Kennedy said: ”This report highlights the extent of the spending cuts and shows the impact that this is beginning to have on the provision of services.
“Tough financial decisions have to be made but the public survey which forms part of this report shows the importance the public places on road safety education, training and publicity. It also clearly indicates that road safety targets would be welcomed, to ensure there is focus and that casualty reduction can measured.
“Road Safety GB is encouraging road safety teams to work in more creative ways within the financial and resource restrictions they face.
“These challenging times have sadly resulted in the loss of a number of key experienced and talented individuals, but I know local authority road safety teams remain determined to continue to provide a high quality professional service. A focus for our National Conference in November will be how to deliver best road safety practice on a shoestring. This will be both useful and timely.”
Click here to download the report, or for more information contact the IAM Press Office on 020 8996 9777.