Government must not ‘take road safety for granted’: PACTS

19.50 | 2 February 2012 | | 3 comments

Robert Gifford, executive director of PACTS, has called on the government to show ‘political leadership’ and ‘vision’ following the publication of road casualty figures for Q3 2011.

Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: Quarterly Provisional Estimates, published by the DfT, records a fall of less than 0.5% for fatalities and 4% for fatal and seriously injured casualties in the 12-months to September 2011, compared to the previous 12-months. In the same period motor vehicle traffic levels fell by 0.7%. 

The figures also point to a continued increase in cycling casualties, with cyclist KSIs up 7% on Q3 2010.

Robert Gifford said: “The best that can be said for these figures is that after two quarters of increases in road deaths, the figures show a small fall of 2%, a figure that is still far lower than in the previous three years where we saw an average quarterly reduction of 14%.

“This fall in deaths of just 2% suggests that overall road deaths will rise in 2011 – the first time this has occurred since 2003.

“Of particular concern is the steady rise in killed and seriously injured cyclists – up 7% compared to the same quarter in 2010. The policy aim must be to see more people cycling more safely. At present we are a long way from achieving this.

“These figures show that you cannot take road safety for granted. What is needed is consistent political leadership supported by a vision to improve our roads for all road users.

“Society should not tolerate deaths and injuries that can be prevented, especially when we have the means to prevent them at our disposal: slower speeds, investment in road engineering, maintaining a focus on vehicle design and effective enforcement of the law. 

“Through the approach known as Vision Zero, Sweden has shown that you can continue to drive down death and injury. The British government needs to develop its own version of this.”

The IAM described the rise in cyclist casualties as “alarming”, adding that the “long-term trend for cyclists is deeply worrying”. IAM says there has been a 17.5% increase in cyclist casualties between 2007 and 2011.

Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, said: “It is extremely concerning that cyclists’ casualties are not reducing and this is something the Government and local councils must act must act on. This will mean changes to road layouts, more cycle training and promoting better awareness among drivers.”

Brian Gregory, chairman of the Association of British Drivers (ABD), also condemned the figures and the Government’s “tired policy”, saying: "This effective increase in road deaths per mile travelled is an abysmal indictment of the failed government medicine of the last decade or more.

“Despite massive improvements in car safety features which must have saved lives, the government plods on with the tired old policy of focus on speed limit enforcement as almost its sole road safety strategy whilst completely ignoring all other factors which cause the vast majority of crashes. The medicine isn’t working, the answer is not more of the same medicine!" 

Click here to access the full casualty statistics on the DfT website.


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    Of course less enforcement and a period of cameras being turned off must play a part. Speed awareness reaches those after the event, how about a little more pro-active investment? Driver attitude towards cyclists is one area where little change has taken place.

    A. Green Northants
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    I am fully behind Rob’s call to the Government, and applaud him for his continued efforts to support road safety in the UK. Slower speeds, investment in road engineering, maintaining a focus on vehicle design and effective enforcement of the law are all areas where can see further improvements in casualty reduction.

    Whilst these areas of huge importance, we must not forget the most important and crucial factor in road collisions, the HUMAN. We know that around 95% of all casualties are caused by human error and that is where I believe we should make our heaviest investment. I have said on many occasions that it does not matter how well we design our roads and our vehicles, if we have not ‘treated’ the human with the same amount of design and development i.e. training, we will continue to have a casualty problem.

    It seems to me that we are now in a situation, because of the removal of central resource, that the only road users that are encouraged to receive any form of training, apart from young cyclists, are those that commit driving offences, because they have to pay. But how are we to develop our drivers, our riders, and our pedestrians of the future, (our children) when there is little funding if any, and staffing resources in local authority road safety teams is diminishing?

    Our road safety delivery expertise in this country lies within the local authorities and it is being allowed to disappear. What are we to do about drink and drugs education on a large scale and more crucially at local level? We can no longer, in many areas, deliver these vital lessons to young and even older drivers. There are many other aspects of road user education that are vital to sustained casualty reduction and which are now in grave danger of extinction.

    We must call on the Government to recognise that they are in danger of creating a ‘skills and awareness’ gap that will be extremely detrimental to the road using public of the UK.

    Thank you Rob for your great contribution. We have talked about these issues previously and I am sure you will have put our case across at the TSC very succinctly.

    Alan Kennedy – Chairman RSGB
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    Casualty statistics have been driven down in recent years due, in no small part, to the hard work done by road safety officers nation wide. One has to wonder how much the cutbacks in road safety units have influenced the slow down in the downward trend for casualty numbers!

    Frances Allen
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