While the vast majority of stakeholders have reacted positively to the Government’s new Road Safety Action Plan, IAM RoadSmart has described it as ‘a disappointing mixed bag’.
Published on 19 July, the highly-anticipated plan sets out 74 actions the Government is considering to reduce the number of people killed and injured on the roads.
One of the key areas is seat belt safety – with plans for penalty points as well as fines for those caught committing the offence.
The plan also includes details of a variety of initiatives which have received funding – including £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.
Stakeholder praise – research and innovation
Road Safety GB has welcomed the new investment, and in particular the plan’s focus on research.
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 safety charity Brake says it is ‘great to see so many innovative projects’ receive funding.
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: “A renewed national focus on road safety is long overdue.
“It’s great to see so many innovative projects in the road safety action plan, demonstrating a clear commitment from the Government, but while there are still deaths and serious injuries on our roads we can always do more.
“We must strive for vision zero and the elimination of road death and serious injury – we would never accept such carnage in rail or aviation so why should we for roads?”
Meanwhile the RAC has praised the Government for recognising the ‘different challenges drivers contend with throughout their driving careers’.
However, it goes on to stress the importance of proper enforcement.
Nicholas Lyes, RAC head of roads policy, said: “Of course it is right to crack down on those that do not wear a seatbelt and we welcome tougher penalties which will encourage some to belt up behind the wheel.
“But this alone won’t be enough to make the roads safer. A number of those who choose not to buckle up are also likely to be those that flout other road traffic laws.
“This reinforces the importance of enforcement and we fear some drivers will persist without the genuine threat of being caught and prosecuted for not wearing a seatbelt.”
Does the plan go far enough?
However, IAM RoadSmart describes the plan as ‘a disappointing mixed bag’ which doesn’t go far enough – citing a ‘worrying lack of detail’ on younger drivers, older drivers and motorcyclists.
The charity says the commitment to some form of graduated driving licence is welcome – but the lack of any timetable for implementation is worrying.
Mike Quinton, IAM RoadSmart chief executive officer, said: “With young men under 25 being the biggest at-risk group when it comes to serious and fatal crashes and drink-driving, the promise of ‘more research’ is simply not enough.”
On motorcyclists, Mr Quinton added: “What is totally missing is any reference to motorcycling despite this being one of the four key areas that the statement was supposed to address.
“As a minimum we had hoped that the unique road design needs of bikers, access to all bus lanes for motorbikes and encouragement of skill refresher schemes such as those produced by IAM RoadSmart and BikeSafe, would have been announced.”