March 2013 PACTS Newsletter

Welcome to the March Newsletter 
Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics?
Event Date: March 21, 2013
Location: London
This conference will explore the casualty trends and trajectories for different road user groups over recent years. It will examine the impacts of safety measures and attempt to assess the wider societal factors affecting road safety. It will also examine how confident we can be about the reliability of crash and injury data and how knowledge about crime data may affect our understanding of the impact of interventions. Join us for a challenging day looking at the real numbers and what they tell us.
‘Government has a laser focus on road safety’
Stephen Hammond MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, promised that this Government has a laser focus on road safety at an event in London on Wednesday. 
He was speaking at a PIN talk organised by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), PACTS’ sister organisation based in Brussels.
The main panel included presentations by Prof Richard Allsop of UCL, Fred Wegman of SWOV Institute for Road Safety Research, and Claes Tingvall of the Swedish Road Administration, who spoke alongside Mr Hammond. 
The Minister’s speech can be accessed here
A full programme of the event is available here
Rail Safety Performance – January 2013 
The Rail Safety and Standards Board has published the following reports:
Overview of safety performance provides a high-level performance on Great Britain’s mainline railway for the calendar year 2012. More detailed safety analyses are presented in RSSB’s ASPRs. The 2012/13 ASPR will cover the 12-month period April 2012 to March 2013 and is due for publication in June 2013
Positive rail safety record in 2012
The Rail Safety and Standards Board has reported the following:
Headline safety data for 2012 suggests that fatality risk to rail passengers remains at an all-time low.
2012 was the first calendar year where no passenger fatalities have been recorded, an example of how the picture is generally positive for the areas of risk where industry has direct control.  However, there have been increases in fatalities for areas where industry has less control, such as trespass.
The headlines       
• For the fifth year in succession, there were no passenger or workforce fatalities in train accidents.
• The total number of fatalities, excluding trespass and suicide, in 2012 was 11, one fewer than in 2011. This is the lowest number in the past 10 years.
• This is the first calendar year where no passenger fatalities have been recorded. The lowest level previous to this was five fatalities, recorded in three of the last 10 years.
• Two members of the workforce were fatally injured, compared with one in 2011. Nine members of the public, not involving trespass or suicide, were fatally injured, compared with six in 2011.
• The number of potentially higherrisk train accidents (PHRTAs) in 2012 was 33, compared with 29 
occurring in 2011.
• At 256, the number of category A signals passed at danger (SPADs) for 2012 was lower than the 279 occurring in 2011. At the end of 2012, SPAD risk stood at 66% of the September 2006 baseline level, compared with 42% at the end of 2011.
Driving Choices for the Older Motorist: The role of self-assessment tools
A new report by TRL (the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory) for the RAC Foundation – Driving Choices for the Older Motorist – analyses data from several countries and finds that self-assessment tools can give older drivers useful feedback about their skills, but they cannot replace the professional assessment of driving abilities. Further validation of self-assessment tools would be needed before they were promoted more widely.
Each year hundreds of thousands of drivers could be making the wrong decision about their ability to drive because they lack the tools or advice to adequately assess their skills behind the wheel.
At the age of 70 – and every three years thereafter – drivers must declare whether or not they are fit to drive. This self-declaration is not made on the basis of any formal medical or driving test, but relies on the judgement of the individual.
While no similar study has been completed in the UK, if the picture here is similar to that in the US and Australia then of the estimated 500,000 motorists turning 70 this year, up to 170,000 might eventually stop driving too early and some 50,000 continue driving with poor levels of ability. There are currently 3.9 million driving licence holders in the UK aged 70 or over.
As well as encouraging and supporting the sharing of Britain’s expertise and knowledge, PACTS is committed to using the Decade of Action for Road Safety as an opportunity to build on existing European and international contacts and learn from experience from outside the UK. Therefore each month a publication from a different country will be featured on the Decade of Action website. 
The Michigan Department of Transportation has released a report that evaluates the impact of new pedestrian countermeasure installations as a way to inform future pedestrian safety initiatives. 
The results of statistical analysis of Pedestrian Countdown Timers (PCT) provided unequivocal evidence that the pedestrian countdown timers reduced pedestrian crashes. These data demonstrated that the PCT is a very cost effective method of reducing pedestrian crashes in urban areas and should be retrofitted throughout the state of Michigan.
Date: February 27, 2013
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Stephen Hammond): The Department has today published a consultation paper on our review of the uninsured drivers’ agreement and untraced drivers’ agreements, which the Secretary of State for Transport is a party to with the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB).
Date: February 5, 2013
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Stephen Hammond): The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) today launched a consultation on the language support available to candidates taking theory and practical driving tests. The consultation seeks views on whether foreign language voiceovers and interpreters should continue to be provided or whether the statutory driving tests should be conducted only in the national languages (English and, in Wales, English and Welsh).
Date: February 5, 2013
Priti Patel (Witham) (Con)
Parliamentary questions are tools that can be used by Members of Parliament to seek information or to press for action. They oblige Ministers to explain and defend the work, policy decisions and actions of their Departments. 
All transport safety parliamentary questions and PACTS comments can be viewed here
This question was asked during the week beginning 11th February:
Meg Munn: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information his Department holds on research into the potential effect on road safety of the replacement of motorway hard shoulders by refuges; and whether he has made an assessment of such research. [142557]
Stephen Hammond: The Highways Agency has completed an assessment of the safety risk for the managed motorways layout all lane running, which includes the permanent conversion of the hard shoulder to a running lane and the inclusion of refuge areas.
This assessment showed a 15% reduction in safety risk when compared to a dual three lane motorway with hard shoulder. This assessment is contained in the Highways Agency’s report ‘Managed Motorways All Lanes Running—Demonstration of Meeting Safety Objective Report’ that is available on the agency website and I have also placed a copy in the Libraries of the House.
The safety risk analysis of all lanes running has learnt from the three year safety performance of the active traffic management operation of dynamic hard shoulder running between junctions 3A and 7 of the M42. An assessment of this performance showed that the average number of personal injury accidents reduced from 5.08 per month before the implementation of active traffic management to 2.25 per month following the introduction of hard shoulder running. This represents a 55.7% reduction in accidents.
PACTS comments: The assessment Mr Hammond refers to is available here. The Highways Agency states that the existing managed motorways schemes have not only improved reliability and eased congestion, but have also delivered significant safety benefits. However, there are significant local concerns regarding the Highways Agency’s proposals for the M1, mainly due to operational difficulties. 
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