Alan Kennedy, chair of Road Safety GB, is warning that road casualties will almost certainly rise because of the scale of budget cuts imposed by the new coalition government.
He is calling on all road safety organisations to form an alliance to spell out to the government the potentially disastrous and life-threatening consequences of its actions.
Mr Kennedy’s comments came after a Road Safety Delivery Board meeting on 16 June, attended by Mike Penning, the new road safety minister.
While confirming the importance that the coalition government places on road safety, Mr Penning reaffirmed the local government cuts outlined on 10 June including the £309m reduction in DfT funding.
The road safety capital grant has been cut by £17.2m and the road safety revenue grant by £20.6m.
Alan Kennedy said: “The minister made it quite clear that while recognising the importance of road safety, the cuts that have been announced will be implemented. He also repeated the message that the ‘war on the motorist’ is over.
“Clearly this level of funding reduction – which represents 27% of the road safety revenue grant – has massive implications for road safety in the UK.
“In the medium term we will almost certainly see casualties begin to rise and all the brilliant work carried out by the UK’s road safety professionals over the past decade and more will be undone.
“But quicker than that, we could see the virtual collapse of the road safety profession – everything we do is potentially threatened by these budget cuts. And the removal of funding for new safety cameras is a major concern because they have proven beyond doubt to be an effective casualty reduction tool.
“I believe that the new government does not fully understand the implications of its actions. It is the job of Road Safety GB, in partnership with other road safety organisations, to ensure that we spell out the consequences in no uncertain terms. I am already in the early stages of dialogue with colleagues in other organisations to form an alliance to try to persuade the government not to put lives at risk.”
Mr Kennedy went on to explain that there has ‘never been a war on motorists’, adding: “The vast majority of drivers understand that they need to take responsibility for their actions but education and training are vital to change the attitude and behaviour of the others – and engineering and enforcement also have an important part to play.
“It is so important that this area of work continues to ensure we have the best drivers and road safety record in the world, and to ensure that future generations are safer road users.
“In the meantime, because of our professionalism, I know that road safety officers and everyone else involved in casualty reduction will continue to do their jobs to the best of their ability.”