Despite repeated calls from industry professionals, the DfT has ruled out reintroducing road casualty reduction targets, according to Fleet News.
The DfT has told the publication that local authorities are better placed to improve road safety, rather than having a centralised national target.
Road safety targets were first introduced in 1987 and are seen by many as having played an important role in helping to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on UK roads. However, the Government axed the road casualty reduction target in 2010.
Fleet News says there remains a “strong consensus” within the road safety community that targets can continue to play a key role in reducing deaths and serious injuries.
A DfT spokesman told Fleet News: “We are making sure that we have the right legal, education, and investment frameworks in place to make our roads safer. We have already introduced new laws, given the police tougher powers to tackle dangerous driving and are investing billions to improve the conditions of our road network.
“Local authorities are best placed to decide how to use these frameworks to make their roads safer, rather than having centralised national targets.”
Richard Owen, Road Safety Analysis operations director, said the current political administration is opposed to using targets. He said: “An example of this is hospital waiting times. This was forcing hospitals to meet numbers and was having a negative impact on patient care.
“The view from the road safety community however, is that targets do make a difference. There is a wider EU target to reduce road fatalities by 50% by 2020, but a lack of clear UK targets takes away focus and sends a message that road safety is not a priority.”
The DfT’s casualty stats for 2014 show that 1,775 people died on the roads last year, a 4% year-on-year increase. A further 22,807 were seriously injured which equates to a 5% annual increase. Casualties of all severities rose to 194,477, an increase of 6% from 2013.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) supports the reintroduction of targets.
Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, said: “Road safety targets have to be reintroduced. They are an internationally recognised way of ensuring reductions are measured and achieved.”
The RAC Foundation says there is a link between the rise in casualties and reduced spending on road safety at a local level.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, told Fleet News: “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 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?”