Increasing penalties for failing to wear a seatbelt is one of 74 actions being considered by the DfT in a new road safety action plan, published today (19 July) by the Government.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling describes the action plan as a ‘key milestone’ in efforts to reduce road deaths and injuries – while it has also been welcomed by Road Safety GB.
Funding awarded in the plan includes:
- A £225,000 grant awarded to Good Egg Safety to deliver a nationally-accredited safety training programme for retailers, to help parents correctly fit baby and child seats
- £200,000 awarded to Road Safety GB to be used (in part) to carry out research into the effectiveness of classroom based road safety education, and determine if children can retain the knowledge learned and demonstrate the correct behaviours over a period of time
- £50,000 awarded to PACTS to review drink driving trends and interventions
- £50,000 awarded to RoadSafe to deliver a digital platform to share best practice to reduce risks for older road users
Chris Grayling, transport secretary said: “Today’s action plan is a key milestone in our road safety work and sets out the important steps we are taking to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads.
“The DfT is also considering the report from PACTS on seatbelt use. This report analyses which drivers and passengers are least likely to wear seatbelts, what prompts their behaviour and which interventions would be best to reduce the number of casualties.”
The Government points to figures which show that in 2017, 27% of car deaths involved people that were not wearing a seatbelt – meaning one in four car deaths could have been prevented by belting up.
Currently, offenders are given a £100 on-the-spot fine, but the Government is considering introducing penalty points as well as fines for the offence.
Michael Ellis, road safety minister, said: “Far too many people are not wearing a seatbelt while traveling in a car, needlessly putting their lives at risk.
“Increasing penalties for people who disregard the simplest of way of protecting themselves is just one of a long list of actions this government is taking to help keep people safe on our roads.”
A Rural Road Users Advisory Panel will also be set up to explore how to boost road safety in rural areas, particularly by improving roads and traffic signs, and issues around speed limits and enforcement.
Alan Kennedy, executive director of Road Safety GB, said: “Road Safety GB welcomes the Government’s action plan for road safety, which also sets out a number of proposals for research.
“We are particularly pleased to see Government investment in road safety as it enables much needed activity in important areas of casualty reduction.
“We look forward to seeing the results of those research programmes and will be keen to see how the research can be translated into programmes of delivery that will have the most impact.”
Road users of all ages to benefit
The action plan is designed to ‘improve road safety for people at every stage of life’, with a package of measures for road users of all ages.
The £225,000 grant to develop a training programme to help parents correctly fit baby and child seats comes after research in which 70% of parents said they didn’t know how to properly install child seats.
The plan also includes research into whether mobile phone use among young pedestrians leads to an increased risk of road collisions.
In order to help young people with special educational needs and cognitive disabilities, the Government will fund research into road safety support to help children aged seven to 18 years to understand the dangers near roads.
As reported earlier this week, Road Safety GB has developed an ‘augmented reality’ app, called ‘Arility’ (video above), in which virtual objects are layered over real world settings – to deliver engaging travel and road safety information to primary school aged children.
Young and newly qualified drivers
The DVSA is developing a behavioural change campaign to encourage learner drivers to broaden their experience, by using more rural roads and driving at night before taking their test.
As reported earlier this week, the plan also includes research to look further at the benefits of introducing graduated driver licensing.
The THINK! team will continue reinforcing road safety messages through continuous campaigns focusing on drink driving, using mobile phones while driving, speeding, and dangers around passenger distraction.
The Government is investigating whether alcolocks – devices which measure the alcohol in a driver’s breath and stop a vehicle from starting if that level is too high – can reduce drink-driving reoffending, as part of a rehabilitation programme.
Also previously reported is a two-year project with the Home Office and National Police Chiefs’ Council to review roads policing, to identify best practice and any gaps in service provision in order to see how policing can be improved.
RoadSafe has been given £50,000 to deliver a digital platform to share best practice to reduce road safety risks for older road users.
The action plan is designed to build on a number of projects in the Road Safety Statement, published in 2015, which saw increased enforcement for drug driving and doubling penalties for using a handheld mobile phone at the wheel.
In other road safety measures, the Government is currently consulting on banning tyres aged 10 years and older from buses, coaches, minibuses and lorries. If proposals are supported, new laws could be introduced later this year, ready to come into force early in 2020.
An ongoing road collision investigation project, being carried out by the RAC Foundation, is examining the cause of crashes to see if there is a business case for a Road Collision Investigation Branch, which would specialise in learning lessons from serious road accidents.