Posted 2:11 pm May 8, 2013
The number of fatalities on British roads fell markedly from 2007 to 2010. This has clearly been “good news”, but the reasons for this success had been poorly understood so there could be little confidence that the number would not begin to rise. In the absence of central government investment to investigate this trend, Surrey County Council took the unusual decision to commission TRL to do so. The relevant datasets for the period from 2000 to 2010 have been analysed to investigate this major reduction, including a wide selection of exposure data. The decrease in overall traffic probably contributed, especially the large reduction in HGV traffic, and a fall in the number of young male drivers. The substantial increase in pedal cycling tended to lessen the overall reduction. Statistical models were developed to look at casualty trends and the effects of car secondary safety improvements. Improvements in vehicle safety made a vital contribution to increasing safety throughout the decade, but the reduction of overall fatalities between 2007 and 2010 was not directly related these improvements. The economic downturn from 2007 appears to have had a beneficial effect on driver behaviour, with less speeding and drink driving. The effect of weather on the fatality trend is less certain, but people may have driven more cautiously in the progressively colder winters since 2007.
The report is available on the TRL website.
Posted 12:17 pm April 5, 2013
Posted 12:17 pm March 4, 2013
Posted 5:13 pm November 1, 2012
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has published a new report on social factors in road safety.
The report argues that efforts to cut the numbers of people killed or injured on UK roads need to focus as much on social factors as safety education.
The policy paper looks at how issues such as where people live, how much money they have and their family circumstances can impact on their likelihood of being involved in a road accident.
The report shows how exposure to danger is a factor which can vary significantly between socioeconomic groups. For example, children in families in the lowest income bracket cross 50 per cent more roads than families in the highest. They are also more likely to play in the street due to lack of garden space or parental concerns about the safety of public parks, or live in areas where street design limits what can be done to re-engineer the road to improve safety.
It also cites research showing that the number of fatalities per 100,000 children whose parents were long-term unemployed or had never worked was 20.6 times higher for pedestrians, 5.5 times higher for car occupants, and 27.5 times higher for cyclists when compared to the children of professional or managerial parents.
The report demonstrates how lack of money can also impact on road safety. However much advice is given on getting cars serviced regularly and replacing worn tyres, some people simply cannot afford to do so. Similarly, new vehicles with improved safety features can prove unaffordable to many.
Social Factors in Road Safety also examines how family structure can influence the likelihood of injury, with children in both single parent families and large families being more at risk.
It recommends that social factors are taken into account when road safety campaigns and initiatives are being planned and suggests that more partnership-working between road safety practitioners and organisations not traditionally seen as concerned with road safety is the way forward.
It makes five recommendations:
The social factors that cause injury need to be tackled in a systematic way by organisations responsible for road safety
Common approaches to improving the health, wellbeing and the safety of individuals and communities need to be identified. Developing closer ties and partnership working between road safety and health professionals could help to do this
Ways of identifying the effects of local and national government policies on road traffic injury need to be developed to identify opportunities to improve and protect road safety within them
Education interventions need to help individuals and communities to overcome the social factors which act as barriers to safer behaviours, and empower them to have more control
Wider use of evaluation on road safety projects is essential to identify which ones are more successful at tackling inequalities.
Duncan Vernon, road safety manager at RoSPA, said: “Our report clearly demonstrates that there are a wide range of social factors that impact on road safety and efforts to reduce casualties. Building road safety into everyone’s priorities and policies is therefore an inescapable step to reduce the inequalities in injury.
“Road safety is a public health issue and a greater integration between road safety and public health at all levels would help to create both safer and healthier environments.
“There are more professions and sections of local government that could be engaged to ensure road safety is part of their policy process. There are good examples, both in the UK and abroad, where such collaboration has worked. A project in New York brought together 26 different organisations, including leisure services, to ensure children had safe, accessible places to play and involved them in activities alongside more traditional safety education.”
Posted 5:08 pm November 1, 2012
Posted 3:25 pm October 31, 2012
The Centre for Automotive Safety Research at the University of Adelaide has published a report looking at fatal and non-fatal crashes in South Australia entitled "The Relative Contribution of System Failures and Extreme Behaviour in South Australian Crashes".
Taking a safe systems approach, the report looks at the breakdown between extreme behaviour (drivers deliberately breaking the law), illegal systems failure (road users not complying with the law fully but where better system design could have made a difference) and system failure (where better design would have led to prevention). In fatal crashes, 43.4% of drivers were involved in extreme behaviour whereas in non-fatal metropolitan injury crashes, 86.8% of drivers were involved in an incident attributed to system failure.
As we develop a more systematic approach to injury prevention, this taxonomy helps us to understand more about the behaviours on our roads and the most appropriate solutions for them. It would be interesting to see its theoretical framework applied in Great Britain.
Posted 10:10 am October 19, 2012
Posted 8:05 am August 21, 2012
Living Streets, the national pedestrians' charity, has published a report examining:
- what we mean by better streets
- who should be taking responsibility
- how to improve the state of our streets
Many case studies are included, showing how local authorities have helped to improve streets. The report draws the following recommendations.
1. Create places for people
National and local government policy must recognise that streets are an integral part of community life, places where we live, work and shop. We are all pedestrians. Decisions that affect the day to day management and maintenance of our streets can have a profound effect on the walking environment – and our quality of life.
Councils should prioritise low cost, simple improvements that make streets safe, attractive and more accessible places to be for young people, older people and people with disabilities. They should ensure that opportunities for more substantial changes employ quality materials and are designed with all street users, particularly the most vulnerable, in mind.
Councils should make full use of their existing powers, for example, by issuing fixed penalty notices, to act against people who damage or deface streets.
Use community street audits wherever possible as part of the process of designing or commissioning streetscape services, in order to involve communities, particularly more vulnerable street users, in helping to spot potential problems on streets and gather local views on the improvements people would like to see.
2. By working better together
Councils should coordinate street care services in order to improve the state of our streets and save money. Designate an elected member and a senior officer to champion street issues and deliver on joint working, and enable frontline, area-based staff who are best placed to report problems to do so.
Wherever possible, councils should coordinate scheduled street maintenance and street improvements with street works planned by external contractors or utilities. They should use the powers available to them to put in place permit schemes for works in their area, in order to ensure high quality reinstatements and minimal disruption to pedestrians and other road users.
Councils and local business should look for opportunities to work together, for example, through the designation of Business Improvement Districts, in order to improve the public realm, and economic health of town centres and local high streets.
Councils should seek to involve local residents and other stakeholders in making decisions, including on how budgets are allocated, which affect the state of their streets. In times of austerity, understanding local priorities and the limitations to delivery imposed by cuts can be mutually beneficial - and opens the way to collaborative solutions.
3. To protect the streetscape
Councils should publicise how to report problems and make it as easy as possible, by phone, online or with smart phone applications. They should also provide feedback on what will be done, why and when.
Councils should set clear, measurable standards for footway inspection. They should be regular and, ideally, linked to highway inspections. The needs of all „street users‟ should be addressed in an integrated fashion, in recognition of the fact that streets have a dual movement and place function. Surveys should also be carried out on foot, in order to ensure the collection of reliable data.
Aim to participate as fully as possible in local authority-led benchmarking and measurement processes, in particular the National Highways and Transport Network‟s Public Satisfaction Survey and Local Government Association‟s LG Inform, which collect and share data to inform service improvement.
Councils must invest for the future. Preventing problems through long term maintenance programmes is better, and cheaper, than temporary quick-fix cures. Scheduling works in advance can also add value when wider improvements are implemented at the same time. As budget cuts continue, sharing knowledge and experience of novel solutions is more important than ever.
Posted 1:33 pm August 15, 2012
Posted 11:56 am August 10, 2012