Road safety suffering from ‘lack of focus and loss of impetus’: RAC Foundation

12.00 | 22 September 2015 | | 5 comments

The RAC Foundation is calling for the government to introduce new casualty reduction targets on the back of DfT stats which will confirm a rise in casualties in 2014.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, says a lack of central government focus has led to English councils not prioritising road safety.
Later this week (24 Sept) the DfT will release detailed casualty figures for 2014 which the RAC Foundation says will show a 4% year-on-year increase in fatalities and 5% rise in serious injuries. 2014 is the second year in the last four when casualties have risen.
A recent survey of 34 English local authorities highlighted concerns about road safety delivery. 85% of those who responded thought the changes in road safety resources and capacity since 2010 have had had a negative impact; 76% think changes in national leadership and strategy have been detrimental, while 60% rated progress in road safety overall as poor.
The figures are revealed in a new report, Road Safety Since 2010, published by the RAC Foundation and PACTS, with input from Road Safety Analysis. 
The report also highlights how despite the general downward trend in death and injury on the roads over the past five years, progress has varied dramatically across the UK.
Compared with the 2005-9 average (the government’s baseline for monitoring progress) by 2013 there had been a 19% reduction in the in the number of people killed or seriously injured (KSI) across the UK.
However, while in London there has been a 40% reduction in KSIs, the reduction in Northern Ireland is 34%, in Scotland 31% and in Wales just 6%. Across England (excluding London) the reduction is 17%.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Because of a lack of central focus, and faced with swingeing budget cuts, English councils have not prioritised road safety and have seen a lot of experienced staff leave.
“We also need to see more systematic sharing of best practice. Why has Scotland managed to achieve a decline of nearly a third in those killed or seriously hurt on the roads over the past five years while Wales has only managed a fifth of that?
“We should be proud of our long-term road safety record, but new impetus is needed to protect it. It was a Conservative transport minister who set a challenging casualty reduction target in 1987. We hope today’s Conservative government will be persuaded to follow the same successful path.”


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    Duncan is right – it is the drivers’ attitudes that need changing, but the authorities, including councils, are in a position to do something – provided it’s the right thing i.e. the right intervention! Targeting the wrong ‘uns through roadside education/enforcement sessions is, in my view, the most effective intervention.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    It is not the councils’ attitudes that need changing, it is the drivers’ attitudes that need changing. The national government is better placed to influence this.

    Duncan Mcdonald, Scotland
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    9 to 1 against! Is that a record, even for me? Never daunted, I will write it again – there is no credible causal link between the funding or policies of road safety organisations and the scale of changes we have seen in 2014. And that’s a mathematical fact.

    Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield
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    As Al Gullon established some years ago, injury trends improve in a slump and deteriorate as any economy recovers – see He predicted what is now happening and was right.

    There is no way on earth that changes in local authority funding and priorites could account for the overall changes we are seeing nor could different policies and spending in different areas account for those marked differences. Instead the RAC’s view is all part of that relatively recent blame culture – of something goes wrong then someone, somewhere must be to blame.

    Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield
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    The very point I made to Stephen Hamilton the then Minister for Road Safety, when the targets were removed. Now in the wake of the Government’s appalling decision, the RAC Foundation is demonstrating what we all knew and expected. Sadly for many RS professionals the damage has been done!

    Gareth, Surrey
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