Image: the British Lung Foundation
The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) is urging the Government not to overlook safety needs in its quest to improve air quality.
Yesterday (26 July), the Government unveiled new plans to tackle air pollution – including ending the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040.
Other measures, such as changing road layouts to reduce congestion, encouraging uptake of ultra-low emissions vehicles and retrofitting public transport are also being championed under the new strategy.
Produced by Defra and the Department for Transport, the plan outlines ways in which councils with the worst levels of air pollution at busy road junctions and hotspots could take ‘robust’ action.
Councils will now be asked to produce initial plans to reduce pollution within eight months and final plans by the end of next year.
While supportive of the need to improve air quality, PACTS is urging councils not to overlook safety – especially when removing speed humps in the name of public health.
PACTS says that speed humps are proven to be one of the most effective and inexpensive forms of speed control measure and have prevented large numbers of deaths and injuries, particularly among vulnerable road users.
David Davies, PACTS executive director, said: “PACTS strongly supports measures to improve air quality in our towns and cities. But the Government must not throw out the safety baby with the air quality bathwater.
“We need vehicles that are clean, driven at speeds that are safe. An increasing number of mayors, councils and organisations are endorsing Vision Zero with strategies to reduce death and serious injury from traffic to near zero.
“Air quality plans must work with them, not against them.”
The RAC has expressed concerns that the UK is not ready for the shift towards electric vehicles.
Nicholas Lyes, RAC roads policy spokesman, said: “The Government signalling the end of the sale of conventional petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 is a bold move – but the reality is that the UK is nowhere near ready for such a sweeping shift to electric vehicles and a huge amount of work will need to be done to meet this deadline.
“While drivers are keen to reduce their emissions footprint and help clean up our air, they are concerned about the cost and battery range of electric vehicles.”