The Department for Transport has today published the first review of the UK government's Road Safety Strategy to coincide with World Health Day, which this year is focussing on the global road safety challenge. CTC says it likes some bits of the review, dislikes other parts.

UK road safety review published; helmets lauded

The review charts the progress to date on achieving the government’s road safety targets and says that in the first three years of the strategy there has been:

* A 17% drop in the number of people killed or seriously injured on the roads, and

* A 33% reduction in the number of children killed and seriously injured.

The strategy review highlights the areas where the DfT says "real successes" in road safety have been achieved.

These include:

* Banning the use of hand-held mobile phones,

* The national roll out of safety cameras following the pilot which showed a 35% reduction in killed and seriously injured,

* The introduction of the hazard perception test to the driving test,

* The good recognition and success of the Think! branding, with recognition by about 7 in 10 of all drivers and 9 in 10 of drivers aged 16 – 24.

* The significant reductions seen in pedestrian and cyclist casualties,

* The new Local Transport Plan process, which allows local authorities to adopt a longer-term approach and more flexibility in delivering the strategy and casualty reductions at the local level.

* The continuing effectiveness of Local Safety Schemes, where local authorities estimate that those delivered in 2002-03 alone would save nearly 5,000 casualties.

* Support for Eric Martlew’s private member’s bill, ‘protective headgear for young cyclists.’

No, that last one’s not there, but roads minister David Jamieson could adopt such a policy, if he were so minded, despite the fact fellow transport minister Dr Kim Howells believes a kid lid law would be unworkable in practice.

Regarding the review, Jamieson said:

"The Road Safety Strategy provided a challenging set of targets for casualty reduction and I am delighted with the progress we are making. There are many people alive and well today who would otherwise have been injured or

even killed.

"I am particularly pleased with the progress we are making on reducing child death and injury, which is already down 33%. But we are not complacent. Road safety is everyone’s responsibility and we need to continue to make all

road users aware of how they can contribute to making our roads safer for everyone."

Across the world, over a million people die each year as a result of road ‘accidents’. And as many as 50 million people are injured each year.

In its world report on road traffic injury prevention, also published today, the World Health Organisation predicts:

* that these figures will increase by 65% over the next 20 years unless there is a new commitment to prevention; and

* by 2020 road traffic injuries will rank third in their league of causes of disability and early death, overtaking HIV and tuberculosis and other major killers.

Jamieson said:

"Globally, road safety ranks among the major killers. But many of these deaths are preventable and we all need to make a concerted effort now to ensure that the worrying predictions in the rise of road deaths and injuries doesn’t become a reality."

Given this emphasis, it would be much easier for Jamieson to portray a helmet law as a ‘Good Thing’.

The full review will be posted here as soon as it is made available.


CTC welcomes:

a) Cycling issues

The restatement of the target in the Government’s 10 Year Plan for transport to treble cycle use between 2000 and 2010; The inclusion of cycle training – recent survey evidence has shown cycle training to be highly effective in encouraging increased cycle use; The acknowledgement that cycle safety improves as cycle use increases; b) Wider issues

The commitment to the Sustainable Towns Demonstration Project and the ongoing Mixed Priority Route Demonstration projects;

The encouragement to local authorities to develop home zones as a model for new and existing residential streets, and the commitment to publish regulations for both home zones and quiet lanes in rural areas (we urge early action to deliver this overdue commitment);

Plans to establish a road hierarchy (including for rural areas) as a basis for determining speed limits;

The commitment to safety cameras as an effective road safety measure (although we urge a change to the guidelines so that speed camera partnerships could deploy covert as well as visible cameras to promote adherence to speed limits throughout the road network, and not just at camera sites);

The aim to see School Travel Plans adopted for all schools by the end of the decade (CTC recommends that the forthcoming Local Transport Plan guidance should require Councils to monitor both uptake and progress on school and employer travel plans alike). CTC is disappointed that:

a) Cycling issues

The review has not set rate-based targets to improve cycle safety – as a result, some Councils or officials may continue to view increased cycle use as a threat (rather than a benefit) to their road safety targets;

The chapter on motorcycle safety makes no reference to the adverse safety impacts of powered two wheelers on pedestrians or cyclists;

The commitment to review the existing guidance on cycle-friendly infrastructure is missing, nor is there any commitment to improve professional awareness of (and training in) how to plan and implement schemes in accordance with this guidance;

Nothing is said about goods vehicle design and HGV driver-training solutions to improve cyclists’ safety;

The Government continues to place faith in cycle helmets as a safety measure despite contradictory evidence on their effectiveness, and clear evidence that helmet promotion campaigns lead to substantial reductions in cycle use. b) Wider issues

There is no commitment to facilitate the adoption of default 20mph speed limits in urban areas;

The possible adoption of Intelligent Speed Adaptation (ISA – i.e. technological solutions to keep vehicle speeds within legal limits) is deferred until after 2010. Traffic law and enforcement

CTC urges that the Government should find legislative time to introduce new traffic laws and sentencing powers identified in the review, including tougher sentences for dangerous and careless driving, plus mandatory retesting and retraining programmes for offending drivers. In addition, CTC calls for new laws which would:

Make it easier for non-motorised users (pedestrians, cyclists etc, including children) to claim damages from drivers who injure them;

A minimum gap to be left by drivers when overtaking a non-motorised user;

Lower the maximum blood-alcohol limit from 80µg to 50µg;

Ban the use of hands-free (as well as hand-held) mobile phones while driving.

We also call for traffic policing to be made a Core Duty in the next revision of the National Policing Plan.

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