Labour sets out to deliver ‘modern transport network’

12.51 | 8 July 2024 | | 1 comment

Louise Haigh is the new transport secretary

In the wake of Labour’s victory in last week’s General Election, Road Safety News editor Edward Seaman asks: what next for road safety?

The obvious place to start is the Labour manifesto – which, while not making much direct reference to road safety, includes a pledge to fix an additional one million potholes across England in each year of the next parliament.

Labour describes potholes as ‘cratering our roads’ and a ‘visible sign of the decline after 14 years of Conservative rule’.

The pothole blitz will be funded by deferring the A27 bypass around Arundel in West Sussex.

The manifesto says: “Labour will maintain and renew our road network, to ensure it serves drivers, cyclists and other road users, remains safe, and tackles congestion.”

Labour is also pledging to support the transition to electric vehicles by accelerating the roll out of charge points and restoring the phase-out date of 2030 for new cars with internal combustion engines.

Responsible for delivering these changes will be the new transport secretary, Louise Haigh. The MP for Sheffield Heeley had served as shadow transport secretary since November 2021.

At the time of writing, there has been no announcement as to who the new roads minister will be.

Analysis
A new Government provides a fresh opportunity for the sector to try and push road safety up the political agenda.

Louise Haigh and her team (still yet to be announced) arrive at a time when the number of road casualties has plateaued for more than a decade.

In the lead up to the election, there was a groundswell of support for the PACTS’ Road Safety Manifesto, which calls for four key actions – including the development of a National Road Safety Strategy.

The strategy should, according to PACTS, focus on prevention, protection and post-collision response, coupled with evidence-based targets and robust safety performance indicators.

One of the key questions is whether the new Government will be minded to reintroduce road safety targets, after so long without them?

The PACTS report also calls for the introduction of graduated driver licencing (GDL). More than any other road safety related topic, GDL has been taking up the column inches in recent months, thanks to impassioned campaigning from various quarters.

With evidence showing GDL improves safety for young drivers, will the new Government be the ones to take forward this measure?

The PACTS manifesto also calls for:

  • Establishing a Road Safety Investigation Branch – An independent body modelled on existing transportation safety branches (for rail and air travel) to analyse road incidents and provide actionable insights to help prevent future tragedies.
  • Adopting advanced vehicle safety regulations – Immediate implementation of the world-leading vehicle safety standards, mandating critical technologies such as automatic emergency braking (AEB) and intelligent speed assistance (ISA).

Other issues
Last year, a Labour Government in Wales adopted a national speed limit of 20mph, a move that has certainly split opinion.

20mph is also favoured by the Labour mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, begging the question – could England be set to follow Wales’ lead and reduce the default speed limit?

And finally, what to do about e-scooters? It feels like an age ago that the trials of rental e-scooters began (July 2020) – and yet, we appear no nearer to establishing whether they will become a permanent fixture in towns and cities across the country.

Of course, their safety record still needs to come under serious scrutiny, but with an energy secretary who firmly believes in net-zero (Ed Milliband), the potential to reduce pollution could sway the argument.


 

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    I’m unsure how the E-Scooter schemes can be seen as a green alternative when every battery used in the companys hubs are recharged on a 3 pin socket off the main grid. There is not a solar panel or any green charging atall involved. I’m also concerned as to the lack of care and storage of the batterys. I raised a concern with management as to the lack of firealarms in vehicles and the overall slack mindset of care when dealing with Batteries and I was constructively dismissed. There is no monitoring of servicing, no monitoring of battery storage. For these schemes to work and not take lives they need a more transparent and daily checking service with the councils providing thier own quality control checks and repair.


    Interested Party, Bath
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