This site is a chance for stakeholders to comment on what Parliamentarians have to say on a transport safety issue
Posted: under General.
Tags: Ashley Cole, Behave Yourself, Lewis Hamilton, Piers Morgan, RAC Report, Road safety, speeding
Last week Piers Morgan was fined £666 for speeding in Brighton. He was caught by a fixed speed camera on 13 November doing 51mph in a 30mph zone. He also had six points added to his licence and was ordered to pay £58 costs after pleading guilty.
Not the only celebrity to have been caught speeding over the past few years, Formula One star Lewis Hamilton had his car impounded in France in 2007 and again this year in Melbourne for over exuberant driving.
In January, Chelsea footballer Ashley Cole was fined £1,000 for speeding. He was also banned from driving for four months and ordered to pay £300 costs. He was caught doing 104mph on the 50mph A3 in Kingston, Surrey, in November 2008.
Comedian Jimmy Carr was fined £300 and given three points for driving a Bentley at 50mph in a 40mph zone in 2008. He was ordered to pay £3,219 costs after a two year legal battle.
It is not only male celebrities who have been convicted. Chris Tarrant’s ex-wife Ingrid has received 15 points in three years for speeding and using her mobile phone while driving and earlier this year was banned from driving for six months.
It is not just those in the public eye who speed. Unfortunately, breaking the posted speed limit is one of the most common motoring offences. Almost all drivers and motorcyclists speed at some point, either by exceeding the speed limit or by driving within the limit but too fast for the conditions.
A survey in the 2007 RAC Report on Motoring showed that 37% of people thought driving significantly above the limit in a built up area was a serious offence, compared to 77% in response to driving over the legal limit.
Speeding poses obvious safety and social risks but continues to be behaviour that the driving public shows little inclination to curtail. The relationship between speed and safety centres on two aspects; the relationship between collision speed and the severity of a crash and the relation between speed and crash rate.
There has been significant development of vehicle design but collision speed is still of greater importance to crash outcome, especially when involving a pedestrian. A pedestrian hit at 30mph has an 80% chance of survival whilst at 35mph it is only 50%. In 2008, 4,685 people were killed or seriously injured (KSI) in crashes where a speed contributory factor was reported; 586 of these were fatalities.
In its report ‘Behave Yourself’ (2009) PACTS called on the DfT to undertake another Speed Management Review to present the road safety community with a clearer understanding of the situation and where efforts should be most concentrated.
PACTS also advocated disentangling the speed camera argument from the broader sphere of speed management to enable progression. It is important to foster greater legitimacy in the tools of enforcement and greater use of average speed cameras at appropriate sites may aid this.
If greater numbers of drivers are to change their behavior, we need strong road safety advocates in all spheres of influence, maybe even including people in the public eye who have experienced the consequences of their actions.
Communications and Conference Manager
Posted: under General, News, Policy.
Tags: 'Embrace Life', 'Three Strikes', Road safety, seat belts, THINK
Last month has seen two adverts highlighting the importance of wearing a seat belt. The Department for Transport re-released a THINK campaign on the fatal consequences of not wearing a seat belt and the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership (SSRP) has created ‘Embrace Life’. Both take different approaches – it’s interesting to compare them.
Since its launch, ‘Embrace Life’ has been seen in 101 counties. The film was directed by Daniel Cox, a BAFTA award winning film maker (60 Seconds of Fame Category) who contacted SSRP about making a road safety film. Filmed during the summer and launched on 20 January, costing £47,000, it was initially picked up by the local media in Sussex, but once it was put onto the internet the viral campaign exploded. Ten days after it was launched the ad had 480,000 hits on YouTube and once other sites such as Ad gabber, Adland.tv, Osocio.org and Media Blips showed it, the ad went truly global. The ad has been invited to appear on French national TV and at the TED.com ‘ideas worth spreading’ Conference in California. One impressed viewer even set up a Face book fan group for people to show their support. So far it has 1180 members. – A real example of how the internet can spread a message quickly and cheaply.
‘Embrace Life’ tackles the issue of the use/non-use of seat belts in a very different way as a key feature over the years has been powerful, graphic TV advertising showing the effects of not wearing a seat belt in a crash. It is provoking an emotional response in all viewers and can be watched by everyone as it will not make people switch over if they believe they will be watching blood and gore. This approach means that it fits firmly in the family domain and the fact that there is no dialogue means that it can be understood around the world.
The decision to wear a seatbelt is the most important single action that can be taken by a vehicle occupant to minimize the risk of personal injury in a road accident. Even now around 300 lives a year could be saved if drivers and passengers remembered to belt up. THINK! is continuing to work on reinforcing the message to new generations of drivers and passengers and the ‘Three Strikes’ ad illustrates that if you don’t wear a seat belt you will suffer fatal injuries, even at low speeds. The ad shows a car crash involving ‘Richard’ who is travelling within the speed limit. The crash depicted whaT would occur in one hundredth of a second in real time, but much of the action is slowed down in order for viewers to take it in. When he hits another car he is thrown forward and his unbelted body experiences three crashes as follows: his vehicle hits another car; his body hits the steering wheel and the windscreen; and his internal organs smash against his frame and rupture.
Unlike ‘Embrace Life’ the THINK campaign had to make two versions of its ad, one for pre-watershed viewing and one for post-watershed viewing, which shows what actually happens to internal organs in a collision instead of describing the consequence.
Both ads are hard-hitting. ‘Embrace Life’ aims to persuade people to wear their seat belts by playing on their emotions by showing a family setting, while ‘Three Strikes’ visually demonstrates the consequences of not wearing a seat belt. It is interesting to see what effect each approach has. Different people react to different messages in order to influence behaviour and to build compliance. However ‘Embrace life’ and ‘Three Strikes’ both perform a crucial function in highlighting the relative simplicity of the task required.
To watch the ads go to:
‘Embrace Life’ http://www.embracethis.co.uk/
‘Three Strikes’ http://think.dft.gov.uk/think/mediacentre/237144/seatbelts
Posted: under General, Parliament, Policy.
Tags: credit crunch, enforcement, Road safety, uninsured drivers
Mark Hunter MP
Mark Hunter is the Liberal Democrat MP for Cheadle. Mark is also the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Liberal Democrat Leader, and is the Liberal Democrat deputy spokesman on Transport issues.
The effects of the credit crunch haven’t stopped at the banks, our wallets or the high street. The repercussions of people feeling the pinch are widespread – we’re all trying to save money in small ways hoping to make a big difference. The problem is that some people will choose illegal ‘shortcuts’ to save them money – like avoiding paying their car insurance.
It’s clear that the numbers of uninsured drivers are rising. Although calculating exact numbers is impossible, we do know that while fatalities from road accidents are in decline those involving uninsured drivers have increased dramatically. In fact estimates place the number of uninsured drivers at around 6.5% of all drivers or about 2 million motorists.
Uninsured drivers cost law abiding drivers money. The Motor Insurance Bureau calculates that uninsured drivers add £30 to the cost of every driver’s insurance policy, amounting to more than £500m a year in additional premiums – a cost that many of us can ill afford in the current economic climate.
What is even more worrying is that uninsured drivers are more likely to be dangerous drivers. According to the RAC Foundation, uninsured drivers are six times more likely to drive a non road-worthy vehicle, up to nine times more likely to be involved in an accident and ten times more likely to have been convicted of drink driving. In fact the most recent estimates by the DfT show that uninsured drivers kill 160 people and injure 23,000 each year.
It’s clear that the Government is failing to tackle the growing menace of uninsured drivers. In fact, the average fine for driving without insurance has fallen by 13.4% between 1997 (£224) and 2007 (£194). Meanwhile, the average premium for comprehensive insurance is over £700 (2009) – much more than the average fine. By allowing insurance costs to increase far above the fine, the Government are not sending a clear message that driving without insurance does not pay. Unless the Government works with insurance companies to make premiums more affordable and ensures that fines reflect the seriousness of the crime, there will continue to be little incentive for people to pay for their insurance. Instead these drivers will continue to prefer to chance that they will not get caught.
Lack of enforcement is the other problem. Technological advances such as roadside insurance checks and automatic number plate recognition are effective, but only if there are enough officers to use them. We need the Government to make enforcement of this problem a higher priority and try some new ideas to improve compliance. One such proposal is based on the system in France whereby all drivers have to display proof of their insurance and MOT certification in their windscreen, thereby ensuring that officials can quickly and easily see which cars are not insured.
With uninsured drivers taking three lives per week on our roads, this problem is not a small one; the Government needs to recognise this and take action now to prevent this problem growing.
Posted: under General.
Tags: Recession, road deaths, Road safety
Robert Gifford, Executive Director of PACTS
Figures published by the International Transport Forum towards the end of July (http://www.internationaltransportforum.org/Press/PDFs/2009-07-22IRTAD.pdf) drew two conclusions from the OECD countries. First road deaths in 2008 showed a large reduction compared to 2007, as already shown in Great Britain’s figures published in June. Secondly, the economic recession could have played a part in this fall.
It is interesting to consider the extent that the recession may affect transport. Recently, there have been signs of reductions in vehicular traffic. In 2008, this fell by 0.8%. In the first quarter of 2009, provisional figures suggest that car traffic was down by 3% compared to the same period in 2008. However, the snowfall in February accounted for 1% of the reduction so there does not seem to be a huge recession impact to date. And even if there is, the fall in casualties is far greater so we cannot conclude that lives saved are due to the impact of the recession.
The DfT figures also show interesting variations between road types. Motorway traffic decreased by 5% in the first quarter, rural traffic by 4% and urban by 2%. If the recession results in less traffic on what are already the safest roads, then I would suggest that we will see little impact on casualties overall.
If these are the short-term impacts of the economic climate, it may also be interesting to think about the potential longer-term changes. Here you also have to think about the government focus on low carbon transport.
We have already seen falls in the numbers of people flying as reflected in Ryanair’s reduction of flights from Stansted airport. As others have commented, the age of the low-cost weekend flight may now be over. Its demise, however, probably has little relevance for safety overall.
What may be more interesting is the decision by the government to encourage long-term electrification of the rail network. Again, the direct safety benefits are minimal since rail already has a good safety record. The question is whether electrification and even the development of a dedicated high speed rail network will encourage those currently using their cars to leave them at home and “let the train take the strain”. In the long-term, Great Britain plc might benefit in safety terms across the transport system.
Finally, it is worth thinking about the impact of the recession on the vehicle fleet. The removal of 10 year old cars from the vehicle fleet through the scrappage scheme may well reduce the number of these vehicles driven by younger drivers – thereby improving their safety. The focus on encouraging low carbon vehicles may also lead to a changed mix within the car parc although all of these will clearly be manufactured to existing safety standards. The only unknown in this area lies in the need for the emergency services to have up to date knowledge of the materials used and the nature of the fuel source when they are visiting the scene of an incident.
All of this suggests that, even if the welcome fall in casualties leads us to ask whether we are now as safe as we can be, the known unknowns of the current economic climate will still lead us to conclude that we have plenty of work to do.
Posted: under General.
Tags: driving test, law, media, PACTS, road deaths
Peter Bottomley, a Co-Chair of PACTS, has been MP for Worthing West since 1997, having previously been MP for the Eltham constituency. In 1986 he was Minister of Roads and Traffic at the Department of Transport and has previously served on the Select Committee for Transport. He is a member of the Drapers’ Livery Company and a member of the Transport and General Workers’ Union.
The task is to cut the causes and the consequences of the crashes that result in death and serious injury.
Events involving trains and planes are rare enough to attract world wide attention. Yet the number of lives lost compared to road is low.
Somehow we must get society to care about the total of the ones and twos, the steady accumulation of road deaths that can be reduced by clear analysis followed by action that works.
When I was told that widespread restrictions or requirements would be justified if just one life would be saved, my reaction was that the alternative was less effort to bring greater benefits.
Sometimes requirements are brought in that do not appear to have a research basis or a way to test their effect. Examples where I have not seen supporting evidence include the ban on coaches from the third lane of motorways and the theory test.
If there has to be a preliminary test, I should perhaps have chosen a short list with the single choice answer against each question. Example: “When I am most likely to collide with a pedal biker?” “When I turn left at a roundabout, no matter whose fault.” Another: “When am I most likely to collide with a motor biker?” “When I turn right or pull out or at a roundabout.” And: “How do I help reduce serious drink driving?” “By providing alcohol free drink within reach at pub, club, party or home: by picking an alcohol free driver for myself; by deciding in advance, not half way through a party, whether I am drinking or driving.”
Most knowledge we hold comes from mainstream media. It would help if local news adopted the habit of reporting routinely when known whether vehicle casualties were wearing a seatbelt, whether a night time pedestrian casualty had been walking towards oncoming traffic, where a drinking driver had been, with whom and whether companions must have known about the prospect of drink driving.
It strikes me as odd that mainstream television can help us learn the common and the arcane features of cooking, cars, antiques, house renovation and family histories. I watch in vain for the interesting important information presented well on the common ways to reduce the risk of a crash, of the simple ways to reduce the injuries when things go wrong together with the language, the way of speaking, that might get people we care about to do what we know we should also be doing ourselves.
PACTS’ members’ skill and experience can help develop the road environments and the vehicles. There is a role for law, legal requirements and sensible regulation. Overlaying all that is doing what works whether everyone understands the reasoning or not. That includes the proper use of restraints (maybe I should only tip taxi drivers who wear their belt too) or volunteering more often to be on the wagon before driving it or by leaving in front of me a gap long enough to allow for my mistake or the mistake of another road user.
Memorial flowers by the roadside tell us there is more to do and that it is worth doing.
Posted: under General, Parliament.
Tags: DSA, House of Lords, young drivers
Viscount Simon is President of the Driving Instructors Association and GEM Motoring Assist, as well as being a Vice Chairman of PACTS. He is one of the ninety hereditary peers elected to remain in the House of Lords and sits for the Labour Party.
I passed my driving test in my teens. I was a fantastic driver; I loved my car until I crashed it and ended up in hospital. Then I started to learn how to drive.
Just because you have a driving license does not necessarily mean you know how to drive properly. Once you have built up experience over the years you will then know what it means to be able to drive.
Sitting next to a driving instructor, be it, a professional or a parent you have support in the car but once out on the open road by yourself you are the only person you can rely on to read the road
The age group 16-29 are responsible, within their first two years of motoring, for 42% of fatalities on our roads. We shouldn’t blame them for their inadequacy. How can the system help them to be better?
The testing process in this county needs to be reformed, one which tests that learners can drive safely, not just master how to control a car and there is also a need to help drivers develop and maintain high standards for life, especially if they drive for work.. Learning has always taken place before long term retention by being able to read and research a topic with assistance from qualified individuals. The publishing of a question bank does not encourage long term retention and should, therefore, be abandoned so that candidates who wish to learn to drive study the whole syllabus and work through a series of workbooks to understand and gain long term knowledge for safer driving.
I wonder if the DSA should channel their efforts towards the assessment of driving ability and let qualified instructors certify the manoeuvres prior to a driving test thereby allowing more time on the driving test for examiners to assess driving ability.
Despite the fall in the number of road deaths most recently published we cannot be complacent because further reductions are possible and, indeed, preferable. Better learning must be part of that process of further reduction.
Posted: under General, Parliament.
Tags: Louise Ellman MP, Novice Drivers, Road safety, Transport Select Committee
Louise has been a long standing member of the Transport Select Committee and in May 2008, Louise was elected as its Chair. Louise has been Joint Chair of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) since 2006.
The latest official statistics on road accidents show a welcome reduction in the number of people killed or injured on our roads. Yet even with this improvement, 2, 946 deaths and 247, 780 road injuries were recorded on our roads in 2007.
Imagine what kind of outcry there would be if that toll of deaths or injuries occurred on our railways, planes or ships. Yet, deaths on the road are seen as a series of individual incidents rather than as an unacceptable national calamity.
The Transport Select Committee recent Report, ‘Ending the Scandal of Complacency: Road Safety beyond 2010’, challenges this attitude. In calling for an end to complacency, it asks for road accidents to be treated in the same way as those in other modes of transport.
Underneath the statistics lie areas of particular concern. One related to young, new drivers aged between 18 and 25 years of age. This situation was investigated in the Transport Select Committee Report “Novice Drivers.” The uncomfortable truth is that, while novice drivers constitute one in eight driving licence holders they account for one in three deaths. Even more horrendous, one in two drivers killed at night are under the age of 25. One suggestion in our report is that drink-driving limits be reduced for these young drivers.
Another acute concern relates to children from poorer socio – economic backgrounds. These pedestrians are 21 times more likely to be killed in a traffic accident that those from the highest socio – economic groups.
The Report made a number of specific suggestions. These include; permitting local authorities to designate more 20 mile per hour zones, questioning the validity of the statistics defining seriously injured road causalities, improving enforcement and implementing our earlier recommendations in relation to novice drivers.
But beyond the specific suggestions, we called for the setting up of an independent Commission on road safety, recognising this is a major public health issue. Behind every statistic of death and serious injury lies a broken and devastated family. That is why it is time to recognise road safety as a major policy issue worthy of more serious consideration. That is the challenge before us.
Louise Ellman MP