Executive Director’s Report
This report covers the period between the Members’ Meeting held at the beginning of July and the end of October. Given the inclusion of the summer recess in this period, it always seems a quieter time than others during the year. That said, there certainly appears to be plenty happening!
On October 14, PACTS was invited to give oral evidence to the Transport Select Committee on recent changes to the motorcycle test. This was a one-off evidence session looking at both the introduction of a new off-road module into the motorcycling test and the relocation of test centres to enable the off-road element to be undertaken safely.
In our written evidence, we argued that the DSA had not over-interpreted the EU Directive implementing the changes. This was a key line of questioning during the oral session with members of the committee concerned about “gold-plating”. From the analysis undertaken by CIECA and circulated subsequently to the Committee by PACTS, it is clear that member states have taken different lines to the implementation. In Ireland, for example, the manoeuvres are undertaken on lightly trafficked roads with parked cars acting as the obstacle which the candidate is required to avoid. At the same time, it is clear that, while the British test is one of the more stringent versions, the DSA has not been significantly harsher in its interpretation. It will be interesting to see what conclusions the Committee draws.
Through contributions from the Vehicle Design Working Party, we are currently preparing a briefing for Parliamentarians on vehicle technology and injury prevention. This briefing will highlight the need for robust research to support technological development. The Working Party has been discussing for some time the significant improvements in vehicle technology either currently in or planned for production. This briefing is intended to inform MPs and Peers on the issue.
Looking forward, we are also undertaking an audit of prospective parliamentary candidates at the next election. Whatever the result of the election, there will be a substantial change in the make-up of the House of Commons either through retirement or loss of seat. It will be important for us to re-establish our status as an associate Parliamentary group as soon as possible after the election. I am grateful to Gill for delving through the lists of PPCs to see which have an interest in transport and are likely to be potential PACTS’ members.
Conferences and events
The second half of the year is always an active one in terms of our events’ programme. This year is no different in that respect from previous ones.
Our conference in October on the challenges beyond 2010 attracted a good audience of practitioners and policy makers. I am grateful to all who attended for your support of our events. I would also like to thank Chris Lines who chaired the final part of the day as I left for the Transport Select Committee. Copies of the presentations are available from the PACTS’ office and will also be available via the web-site.
Bookings are also coming in well for the Westminster Lecture on December 1. You will be aware that this is the 20th Lecture, its longevity clearly a reflection of the support that the event attracts. If you have not booked, please do so as soon as possible as places are becoming limited.
On March 10 2010, we will be holding a conference on the theme of technology and vulnerable road users at the University of Birmingham. The programme is now finalised and will be sent out shortly. If anyone is interested in booking a stand at the event, may I ask you to have a word with Gill about the spaces available on the day.
The organisation of both conferences reflects some of the comments made by members in the questionnaire sent out earlier this year. Our March event is deliberately taking place outside London since many of you have felt that travel to London is sometimes difficult to justify. I hope that Birmingham, well placed for public transport, offers a viable alternative. Our conference earlier this month also included a panel session to allow greater room for contributions from the floor. Finally, we also have a supply of pens so that you can show your commitment to PACTS in a public fashion!
In case you have not noticed it, we are also involved in a joint event with the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. This will be held on the afternoon of November 23 and will look at the issue of safety and CO2 emissions: can we cut both casualties and emissions or are these mutually opposing policy objectives? Given the emphasis in the recent Committee on Climate Change report on electric vehicles, this timely event once again places PACTS at the centre of policy development. Details of the event and a booking form can be accessed via IMechE’s web-site: www.imeche.org
Shared space project
At the previous meeting, Eleanor gave a report on the new research project looking at “Shared Space”. Work on this is now well underway with a number of interviews and visits already undertaken. Originally, the intention had been to publish the final report in October 2010. However, it seems likely that the publication date will be brought forward to earlier next year. The report is intended to complement research commissioned by DfT that will inform future Traffic Advisory Leaflets. Our report will focus on some of the higher order issues of shared space such as risk transfer and how the concept fits within the post 2010 landscape. If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact Eleanor directly: Eleanor.email@example.com.
It was encouraging to note that both the headline drink-drive figures published in August and the more detailed Reported Road Casualties Great Britain published in September showed substantial falls in road deaths compared to 2007. The overall trend in road deaths is very encouraging as it has been maintained over 14 quarters and is more than a reflection of the economic circumstances. However, compared to other modes of travel, risk of death and injury on the road remains significantly higher. We still have plenty to do to drive that risk down compared to rail and air.
In that context, members may wish to note that the European Commission is currently consulting over a new target for casualty reduction across the EU. The background to the consultation and the questionnaire can be accessed via
PACTS has submitted a response and I would urge all those interested to do the same.
On a different note, I have also been asked to take part in the five year review of CHIRP, the confidential human factors incident report programme available to the aviation sector. This review will be looking at the effectiveness of the programme and the need for its continuation. CHIRP has been an important contribution to aviation safety, helping to foster the just culture that exists in this sector. I look forward to participating in the review of its current and future work.
During the next few weeks, you should receive a copy of the Annual Review for the year 2008/9. I hope that this will be a useful summary of PACTS and its work. Please feel free to pass on your copy – assuming that you don’t want to keep it! – to anyone who might be interested in joining us. I appreciate that, in the current economic circumstances, it is not easy to find money to pay for subscriptions. However, the strength and breadth of our membership is an important resource for
us to ensure that our statements reflect good and current practice. Thank you for your support in this.