Stakeholders call for road safety “election pledge”

12.00 | 11 March 2015 | | 7 comments

An alliance of road safety organisations has written to the political parties asking them to “include road safety as an election pledge” within their manifesto, and to make a commitment from any future government to “reinvigorate efforts” with regard to road safety.

The letter is signed by representatives from AIRSO, IAM, PACTS, RoadSafe, Road Safety Foundation, Road Safety GB and RoSPA. It has been distributed to the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, DUP, SNP, Plaid Cymru, SDLP, UKIP, Green, Respect and Alliance political parties.

The letter suggests that, with casualties beginning to rise again, “shifting (government) priorities are having an effect on our position as a global leader in road safety”.

It calls on the Government to adopt the “safe systems and vision zero approach”, and to support the inclusion of a “global road safety target” to halve road traffic fatalities by 2030.

The letter says the “enormous commitment and willingness from road safety professionals” should be matched by “an equal determination from Government to continue the effort to reduce death and injuries on our roads and to maintain the UKs high profile around the world in this area”.

It concludes with an offer to all parties to help them draft a manifesto statement, and provide “a range of options which should be considered for inclusion in future Government policy on road safety”.

The full text of the letter reads as follows:

“In recent years the UK has made great strides in reducing the numbers of people killed and seriously injured on our roads through a combination of Education, Enforcement and Engineering. Despite having a strategic framework for road safety for the last four years, there are signs that casualties are beginning to rise again suggesting that shifting priorities are having an effect on our position as a global leader in road safety. We are seeking a commitment from any future government to reinvigorate its efforts in this area and to include road safety as an election pledge within your manifesto.

"The current government published its Strategic Framework for Road Safety in 2011 in which it stated: “Our long-term vision is to ensure that Britain remains a world leader on road safety. There have been impressive improvements over previous decades and in recent years. We are committed to ensuring this trend is maintained. We want to encourage all road safety stakeholders to join together to support us in making this vision a reality.”

"There have been very substantial reductions in the number of people killed and injured on our roads, and we can justifiably claim that our roads are among the safest in the world. However, road death and injury continues to plague our communities, with around 450 deaths and serious injuries, and over 3,500 casualties, every week. There is no room for complacency.

"On a purely economic basis, preventing these avoidable crashes, deaths and injuries would make a significant contribution to our economic growth – the value of preventing reported road accidents in 2013 was estimated to be £14.7bn, and if accidents not reported to the police are included, this rises to around £30 billion. Every day road collisions cause entirely avoidable delays and costs to many road users.

"To sustain and improve our road safety achievements, and to prevent the number of casualties, and their costs, increasing as the economy improves, we urge the new government to strengthen the Strategic Framework for Road Safety by adopting the safe systems and vision zero approach. A safe system says that we aim to avoid death or serious injury and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has called for the Safe System approach to be pursued with a focus on reducing the economic costs of road crashes and ambitious targets which aim to push road deaths ‘Towards Zero’.  This challenges everyone who influences road safety to change the way we think about using our road environment and the way we work together to make it safer for everyone.  People being injured and killed just by using our road network is not inevitable and should not be acceptable to any government.

"We urge the new government to develop its future road safety programme in line with the Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road which promotes a Safe Systems Approach delivered under the five pillars: Road Safety Management; Safer Roads; Safer Vehicles; Safer Road Users; and Post-Collision response.

"An early practical step would be for the new Government to support the inclusion of a Global Road Safety Target to halve road traffic fatalities globally by 2030 in the Sustainable Development Goals that are about to be agreed by world governments. We also urge the Government to send a strong delegation to the second UN Global Ministerial Conference on road safety in Brazil this November. Sharing the UK’s knowledge and experience is important and can help other countries, as well as demonstrate our commitment to saving lives here at home.

"The motivation of Road Safety Professionals and their professional bodies provides the platform upon which Government policies are delivered but strong political leadership is essential to provide positive direction for the remainder of this decade and beyond. There is enormous commitment and willingness from road safety professionals to continue the work to save lives. This needs an equal determination from Government to continue the effort to reduce death and injuries on our roads and to maintain the UKs high profile around the world in this area.

"If the signatories to this letter can provide any further information to assist in drafting a manifesto statement then we would be very pleased to do so along with providing a range of options which should be considered for inclusion in future Government policy on road safety."


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    Thanks Nick – policy does seem to revolve around moving the existing goal posts for potential increases in prosecution and revenue. Remember that there are 2 sides to the equation – road safety on the one side, the mobility of people and goods for the economic/social benefit of everyone. There are potential economic deaths from the costs of unnecessary slowing of essential infrastructure. Time is money, time is life – speed saves both.

    Paul Biggs, Staffordshire
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    “The removal of the influence of non-expert campaign groups….” Quite right – applies to this forum sometimes as well – to its detriment.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    A quick whiz around this website will tell you there is much more to ‘road safety’ than ‘lowering speed limits/installing cameras’.

    The new archive covers road safety initiatives relating to children, drink driving, driver distraction, drug driving, older drivers, pedestrians, vehicles & technology, teenagers – to name but a few.

    Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News
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    ‘Global’ road safety is nothing to do with the UK – individual countries have responsibility for their own roads and road users. Vision zero is just more ideology – moving objects will always collide.

    What’s really needed is: (1) Sensible speed limits set scientifically, that have a sound basis and consent of the majority. (2) The removal of profit motivation from road safety. (3) The removal of the influence of non-experts campaign groups and charities who have no expert CV in driving or road safety. (4) Road safety remedies based on proper investigation of the actual contributory factors in accidents rather than simply lowering speed limits/installing cameras.

    In other words, road safety for road safety’s sake and not modal shift/social engineering agendas.

    Paul Biggs, Staffordshire
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    Certainly David, I’m always happy to spread the word. Rather than write reams and reams of stuff here I could do no better than direct you to a couple of papers that explain the ‘new view’ in some depth.

    The first paper is from the perspective of industrial safety, but has great value for road safety as well.–Myths-industrial-safety-Tech-Report.pdf

    The second paper is from Eurocontrol (the pan-european air traffic control service) which lays out the new view in great detail. The author of the first paper coined the term “Safety II” to better describe the new view and to give it a simple handle that showed that the thinking was in advance of the present understandings.

    There are a considerable numbers of papers and articles (just Google safety II) that are now beginning to emerge on the Safety II view take this blog entry as an example.

    Duncan MacKillop. No surprise – No accident
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    Duncan, why not explain your “New View” for the uninitiated?

    David Davies, London
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    Surely it would be better for all concerned if the Government were to abandon the “safe systems and vision zero approach” as it is these pieces of dogma that are at the heart of the problem. Much better to take the ‘new view’ of accident causation as that will be the only way we will be able to reduce the number of casualties in the future.

    Duncan MacKillop. No surprise – No accident.
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