March 2010

Transport Select Committee

On Wednesday 24 February the Transport Committee held Transport Questions with the Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Lord Adonis. The Committee asked questions on topics including; unadopted roads, Active Travel Management, the Strategic Road Network, Network Rail and Toyota.

Lord Adonis answers questions on transport by the Lords

In a new initiative on 14 January, Secretary of State for Transport, Lord Adonis, was asked three additional questions by Members of the House of Lords on transport issues. Until today, secretaries of state who sat in the Lords avoided being scrutinised in the chamber on the activities of their department.  Instead that responsibility fell to the elected members of their ministerial teams in the Commons. The initiative continues to see Members of the House of Lords scrutinise the activities of the Government by ensuring the two Secretaries of State sitting in the Lords (Lord Mandelson and Lord Adonis) are directly responsible for answering the additional questions.

Baroness Hanham, Baroness Wilcox and Lord Bradshaw asked questions on the national bus concession in England, climate change and aviation and passenger satisfaction on railways.

Don’t forget, Parliamentary questions and business is added to the website every Friday.

New powers to tackle aircraft laser crime introduced

A new law that makes shining a light or laser at an aircraft a specific criminal offence has been introduced. The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which initiated the new law, said it was in response to the growing number of incidents involving laser devices being shone at airliners and helicopters near British airports (see below for a list of hotspots). Previously, anyone caught shining a laser at an aircraft may have been charged with ‘recklessly endangering an aircraft’. Offenders may now be charged with ‘shining a light at an aircraft in flight so as to dazzle the pilot’, which it is expected will increase the conviction rate. The CAA said that distracting or dazzling a pilot with a light or laser represented a serious safety risk, particularly during critical phases of flight such as take-off and landing when a pilot’s concentration was at maximum levels. The numbers of reported incidents of this type have increased 25 times in only two years. In 2009 there were a total of 737 attacks with lasers on commercial airliners, air ambulances and police helicopters across the UK, a considerable increase on the 29 incidents in 2007. Although there have been around a dozen successful prosecutions so far, many more arrests are expected as police air support units roll out new technology to catch offenders. Bob Jones, Head of Flight Operations at the CAA, said: “This new criminal charge will strengthen the hand of law enforcement agencies in their efforts to tackle this problem. I advise individuals who may think shining a laser at an aircraft is a bit of fun, to think again. The chances of getting caught are increasing rapidly and, once caught, criminal charges are now inevitable. Anyone who witnesses a laser being shone at an aircraft should contact the police immediately – just as they would observe any other criminal act.” The malicious use of lasers against aircraft has become a global problem in recent years with large numbers of incidents reported in the USA, Australia and Canada. Airports reporting high numbers of laser incidents in the UK in 2009 included Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham, Heathrow and Leeds Bradford. The CAA said that it was encouraging the aviation industry to unite around the problem by reporting incidents to police air support units as soon as they happen. Concerted action could see culprits detected within minutes.

Review of the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) by the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) – public consultation

RSSB’s constitution requires that it is subject to a review every 5 years. On 2 February 2010 RSSB asked ORR to undertake a review:
• Review of RSSB – letter from RSSB to ORR (PDF)
• Review of RSSB – ORR reply to RSSB (PDF)

As part of this review, ORR is conducting a public consultation directed at organisations and individuals with an interest in the work of RSSB and mainline railways health and safety. We welcome your input to this important review.

There are two consultation papers: the first is a detailed questionnaire on aspects of RSSB’s work and will be most suitable for members of RSSB and other organisations that work with RSSB, or use any of their products and services; the second questionnaire asks for general observations that may be more suitable for individuals and organisations with less direct involvement with RSSB.
Responses should be sent by 7 May 2010.

Bold new THINK! campaign to cut motorcyclist deaths

Motorcyclists will see their names up in lights as part of a bold new THINK! campaign to save lives on the roads.

The new TV adverts will show bikers with flashing neon signs attached to their bikes.  The signs show the rider’s name and describe personality traits such as ‘shy retiring type’ or ‘new dad’.  The voiceover at the end asks drivers to look out for motorcyclists next time they’re out driving.
The new £3.5 million campaign – launched by Road Safety Minister Paul Clark – marks a radical departure for THINK! after research showed drivers are more likely to notice motorcyclists on the roads if they personally know a biker.

The adverts put motorcyclists at the centre of the new campaign in a bid to encourage all drivers to see the person behind the helmet – and so tackle the huge over-representation of motorcyclists in road casualty figures. Despite only accounting for 1% of traffic motorcyclists make up 19% of deaths on Britain’s roads.

The new ‘Named Riders’ campaign started on Monday March 1st and includes TV, radio, cinema and online advertising.  There will also be a campaign called ‘Be Alive to the Road’ which will encourage new motorcyclists to wear protective clothing and take up further training.

People Power Backs ‘Embrace Life’

A Facebook campaign is underway to put Embrace Life, the newest campaign from the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership (SSRP), on TV after it secures the top three search results on
Released on Wednesday 20 January, Embrace Life has swept around the internet, pulling hits to in from across 58 countries around the world.  Facebook in particular is driving traffic to the SSRP’s seat belt campaign and a group has been created by one impressed viewer to have it screened on national TV.

Neil Hopkins, Communications Manager for the SSRP, comments:
“I am delighted by the way that Embrace Life has been welcomed by the public.  We developed the concept to provide a talking point around the issue of individuals not wearing their seat belts.
“It appears that we’ve touched a nerve with the campaign, and I’ve received many positive comments concentrating on the way that Embrace Life delivers an emotional impact, but without the use of blood or gore.”

Anyone wishing to lend their support to the campaign can join the dedicated Facebook group – either search for ‘Embrace Life TV’ in Facebook, or type into your browser.
The campaign is also gaining attention through some of its more unorthodox promotional techniques.  Working with a prominent graffiti artist has seen sites in Brighton previously littered with unsightly tags turning into large scale public place artworks to support the campaign.
Furthermore, the SSRP team contacted members of the media and creative industries throughout Sussex prior to the launch with thermoreactive postcards, bearing a cryptic message directing the recipients to

PACTS Publishes a Road Safety Review after 10 Years of the “Tomorrow’s Roads: Safer for Everyone” Strategy.

The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) has published its independent analysis of progress towards the 2010 road casualty reduction targets. March 1 marked the tenth anniversary of the publication “Tomorrow’s Roads: Safer for Everyone” by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. The analysis is based on data up to the end of 2008. Confirmed casualty data for 2010 will not be available until June 2011.

In the report, PACTS has analysed both overall trends in casualty reduction and the different trends for road user groups, behaviours and locations. It has also looked at wider geographical groupings for casualty reduction in an attempt to assess regional variation within the national trends.

Key findings from the report include:

• The adoption of a road safety strategy and targets in 2000 helped to provide a focus for road safety activity and brought together new partnerships;
• Although Killed and Seriously Injured (KSI) figures in Great Britain were down by 40 per cent in 2008 compared with the 1994/98 baseline, different casualty reduction profiles can be observed in relation to user groups;
• Men between 20 and 40 years of age are six times more likely to die on the roads than women;
• Although there has been a significant reduction of 50% in child KSI up to the age of 16 as a result of a targeted approach developed in Tomorrow’s Roads, data shows a need for Great Britain to extend the focus to young people up to 25;
• Frailty among older road users remains high and a co-ordinated approach for this age group will be important as the population ages; and
• A more sophisticated approach will be required as the next strategy is developed, with a national vision and strategy being supported by more targeted approaches by area and user-type.

The report attempts a new approach to analysis of casualties, looking not at individual authority performance but at area-type groupings similar to ‘family groupings’ used to assess Police performance by the Home Office. Three example groupings are selected: Metropolitan County Areas, Predominantly Rural County Areas and Central Shire County Areas. Although the three groups do not cover all the highways authorities in England, this focus allows more specific observations to be made, paving the way for similar approaches in the future. Key headlines from this approach include:

• Overall KSI and child KSI reductions have been lower in the Metropolitan County Areas at 34% and 37% compared to 40% and 58% nationally. Higher levels of deprivation in these areas are seen as influencing factors on the rate of casualty reduction;
• In Predominantly Rural County Areas, KSI reductions in 2008 were just below the national average, with authorities in these areas struggling to confront more divergent casualty profiles; and
• In the Central Shire County Areas, KSI reductions at 44% in 2008 were slightly ahead of the national average. Drivers under 35 are over-represented in collisions in these areas and nearly 50% of all collisions involve people from career-driven, affluent family types.

Commenting on the report, Robert Gifford, Executive Director of PACTS, said “As we continue to think about the next road safety vision and strategy beyond 2010, we need to know what has worked and what challenges remain in the current period. This report is our attempt to help that process of analysis.

“It is clear in both the Metropolitan County Areas and in London that deprivation and road casualties are linked. This relationship should be re-appraised in the appropriate areas as part of the next road safety strategy.

“The stretched target in London introduced by the previous Mayor and supported by the work of Transport for London (TfL) has helped to achieve substantial casualty reductions beyond the national average. The presence of a body such as TfL offering support to local boroughs and managing funding for pan-London initiatives highlights the potential benefit of area-type management and co-ordination to help make our roads safer.

“Beyond 2010, we will need to focus far more on effective delivery of road safety, making better use of the data and resources we have at our disposal. Understanding regional similarities and differences will be part of that effectiveness as will the adoption of a systems based approach to road safety. It is important to recognise that crashes can happen anywhere on our road network. Society has a moral duty to act to prevent the occurrence of crashes when the cause is known and there are cost-effective methods of preventing them.”


Better, Safer Communities: the contribution from street design

6 October 2010, Royal Society of Medicine, One Wimpole Street, London

Over the last few years, there has been considerable professional, political and media interest in new approaches to street design. Shared space, de-cluttering, the naked street and simplified streetscape are all terms in common use. A key theme is the extent to which it is possible through the use of these – or other approaches – to manage the tension better between place and link, between mobility and liveability.

This conference, following on from the publication of PACTS’ report on “Shared Space” will offer an opportunity to reflect on the challenges facing urban development. Can we ensure environments that are good for walking and cycling and offer improved safety? To what extent do current practices help or hinder the development of new approaches? How can we balance safety and other policy objectives such as the improvement of the public realm?

Join us at this conference to debate these issues and to hear from a range of key speakers including

John Dales, Urban Initiatives
Andy Best, Transport for London
Richard Kimberlee, University of the West of England
Sabine Lutz, Shared Space Institute
Alex Allen, Sustrans
Eleanor Besley, PACTS
Andy Cameron, WSP UK

Full details including a booking form will be circulated shortly and will also be available via our web-site:

Roads, casualties and public health: the open sewers of the 21st century?

21st Westminster Lecture, Tuesday 23 November 2010, One Bird Cage Walk, SW1H 9JJ

Every century comes with a major public health warning about the harm that we inflict on ourselves. In Britain in the nineteenth century it was the diseases we spread by tolerating open sewers. In the twentieth century it was tobacco that we slowly learnt to love, then fear. In the twenty first century it is the way we tolerate how cars are allowed to travel on our roads. Accidents involving cars are responsible for more deaths among children and young adults in Britain than can be attributed to any other causes.

What remains the same over time is our intolerance of suffering, of ourselves and those around us. Slowly, one by one, the causes of the greatest damage to health are progressively removed. This lecture brings together maps, statistics and arguments to suggest that we should now view our road transport system as the greatest current avoidable toll on public health.

Danny Dorling is Professor of Human Geography at the University of Sheffield. Danny’s current research interests include the visualization of spatial social structure through drawing atlases; the changing social, medical and political geographies of Britain as revealed by the 2001 Census.
This year, the lecture will be undertaken jointly with our sister organisation the European Transport Safety Council, marking this the first ‘European Transport Safety Lecture’ to be held in the UK.

eSafety Challenge
13 July 2010, Millbrook Vehicle Testing Centre

PACTS members are being invited as special guests at the Challenge to see how these technologies work and to experience them in person. Registration is now open.

The Challenge will focus on innovative vehicle safety technologies and the potential for lives to be saved on the roads through increased deployment of these technologies. An important obstacle for deployment is the lack of awareness among both policymakers and end users, which is affecting policy support, user expectations and readiness for change. The key eSafety applications promoted by the eSafety Challenge include:
•         Electronic Stability Control
•         Blind Spot Monitoring
•         Lane Support Systems
•         Speed Alert
•         Warning and Emergency Braking Systems
•         Adaptive headlights

To register click on:
The event is by invitation only – to register please use Code:  UK group


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