Recent increases in road fatalities should be a wake-up call for Government to step up and provide stronger leadership on road safety, say MPs in a report examining the Government's Strategic Framework for Road Safety.
Launching the report Louise Ellman, Chair of the Transport Committee said,
"We are very concerned that 2011 saw the first increase in road fatalities since 2003, with 1901 people killed on the roads. It is shocking that road accidents are the main cause of death amongst young adults aged 16-24 and that so many cyclists continue to be killed or injured. In 2010 there were 283 fatalities amongst car occupants aged 16-25. 27% of young men aged 17-19 are involved in a road collision within the first year of passing their test. If the government is not willing to set targets, it should show more leadership. Action is required to improve road safety for young drivers, including an independent review of driver training. We welcome the attention cycling has received but there is much more to do."
The Committee also highlights the variability in road safety performance between local authorities.
"The evidence we gathered suggests the principal factor in improving road safety is robust political leadership. The Government’s strategy sets out to devolve decision making on road safety to local authorities but many authorities face a shortage of funding and the loss of many skilled road safety personnel. We welcome innovative working between local authorities and, for example, health authorities. The Minister should also do more to flag up and disseminate best practice"
adds Louise Ellman.
The Committee urges the Government to utilize the opportunity presented by a planned update for the Strategic Framework for Road Safety in September 2012 to reassess its road safety strategy. More attention should be given to engineering improvements in road design and technology and the Government should account for recent increases in the number of road fatalities. Any proposal to increase the motorway speed limit should follow approval from MPs in the House of Commons.
The Committee also called for the Department for Transport to:
- Explain in its annual report regarding whether road safety is improving each year in line with its forecasts
- Highlight best practice by local authorities, in particular noting innovative practices and multi agency approaches
- Provide an update of the initial findings of the Governments Learning to Drive programme
- Carry out an independent review of driver training to reduce the casualty rate for young drivers
- Consider encouraging HGV's to fit sensors to improve cycle safety.
- Look at cycling infrastructure, with the Department responding to the 8 points of The Times cycle campaign
- Report on motor cycle training and learn from previous mistakes in implementing changes to motor cycle testing in response to European directives
- Highlight best practice and innovative working methods in providing 20 mph zones
- Include engineering measures in the Department's outcome measures
- Report on new advertising campaigns for road safety, particularly on engaging with social media
In 2011, 1,901 people were killed in road accidents. This is the first annual increase in road fatalities since 2003 and a 3% increase compared to 2010. 25,023 people were killed or seriously injured, an increase of 2% from 2010 and the first annual increase since 1994. In 2011, 3,085 cyclists were killed or seriously injured. The number of people killed or seriously injured remains lower than any year since national records began, except for 2010. The Government has not so far provided any specific explanation for these increases and it remains unclear whether this marks the beginning of a new trend in road deaths.