August 23, 2019

Calls for action after ‘disappointing’ trend in road fatality statistics

Following the latest road safety statistics from the Department for Transport (DfT), there have been calls for action from the industry’s safety bodies.

In a trend that began in 2012, there was once again no significant reduction in the number of deaths on Britain’s roads in 2018, in which 1,782 people were killed – more than 34 people every week.

Prior to 2012, the country saw significant decreases in the number of people being killed in road traffic incidents, but since then the downward trend has stalled. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) believes this could be addressed by the introduction of dedicated road safety targets for England.

Any commitment to dedicated targets – as exist across Europe, including in other UK constituent countries – was omitted from the Department for Transport’s latest Road Safety Statement, released last week, although it did commit to researching their effectiveness.

RoSPA’s head of road safety, Nick Lloyd, said: “We believe the case has already been made for the introduction of road safety targets in England. They are already being used to great effect in countries including Norway, which has the safest roads of any country in Europe, Ireland, which has seen dramatic decreases in fatalities over recent years, New Zealand, and even Scotland, where they have already seen a 50 per cent decrease in fatalities against a target of 40 per cent.

“We welcome the targeted interventions outlined in the Road Safety Statement, and hope that these have a real impact, however we also feel that targets would be of great benefit, as they help to focus and unite efforts to make our roads safer.”

Meanwhile, IAM RoadSmart has maintained that Graduated Driving Licences must spearhead a comprehensive series of changes to save the lives of young drivers in particular.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “These figures underline the critical need to accelerate delivery of policies such a Graduated Driving Licences. The government road safety statement issued last Friday highlights many of the issues but was very short on actions.”

IAM RoadSmart wishes to see the following:

• A 12-month minimum learning period with an online learning log for learner drivers to complete prior to taking the practical test. Low speed parking and turning manoeuvres could be assessed as part of this process. There is evidence that around 120 hours of driving experience in mixed conditions would produce safer new drivers but not all of this has to be with a paid-for instructor

• IAM RoadSmart strongly supports the development of a ‘post’ or ‘second’ phase test as part of a refreshed licensing system. After passing the practical test refresher and eco driving lessons must be taken before full license status is granted. IAM RoadSmart wants to work with stakeholders to develop the best solution using the resources currently available in the UK

• Alongside these interventions IAM RoadSmart supports some graduated license controls in the first year/six months of driving, for example to limit the number of peer passengers (but no limit on older passengers) and a lower blood alcohol limit