PACTS: November Newsletter
This newsletter summarises recent PACTS events and some of those planned as we the approach to the New Year.
We also report on government transport safety matters, particularly the imminent reduction in the drink-drive limit in Scotland and progress with the Infrastructure Bill at Westminster.
October saw 130 delegates and speakers visit Thatcham Research for the PACTS Driverless Vehicles: from technology to policy conference, supported by Delphi. This brought together technology experts, safety practitioners, policy-makers and others to explore the implications of new vehicle technologies, particularly for road safety. The presentations – from Transport Minister Claire Perry, Thatcham, Delphi, Volvo, ABI, Leeds University and the Department for Transport are available here. Thatcham gave delegates the opportunity to experience the new vehicle technologies at first hand, including Queue Assist, Low Speed Autonomous Emergency Braking and self-parking systems; along with a tour of the research and research facilities.
In November PACTS ran a Tyre Safety Parliamentary Briefing with TyreSafe and the Tyre Industry Federation. The Highways Agency highlighted the scale of tyre-related incidents – over 66,000 on the Strategic Road Network in England in the previous 18 months, with major consequences for casualties, delays and costs. Shadow Transport Minister Richard Burden MP gave the keynote response. Presentations from the event are available here.
The 25th Westminster Lecture on Transport Safety will take place on 8th December with guest lecturer Tony Bliss, Global Road Safety Advisor, Monash University Accident Research Centre and Principal Advisor, Commission for Global Road Safety, London will present Road safety in the 21st Century – public expectations of government. To maximise the opportunity for Parliamentarians to attend the lecture will be held in the Palace of Westminster. This year it is an invitation-only event with no fee. All PACTS members have been invited. If you would also like to attend, contact PACTS Events Manager Joanne Mackel but please be aware that there are only 100 places available.
On the 10th December the University of Salford will host The Future of Road Safety conference. PACTS Executive Director, David Davies, and PACTS Director and Trustee, Professor Richard Allsop will be speakers. PACTS members are eligible for a 25% discount. See Salford University website.
PACTS Campaign Priorities
Looking ahead to the 2015 general election PACTS has drawn up a Road Safety Manifesto containing a list of road safety priorities which would significantly reduce the number of deaths and injuries on the UK’s roads. These include casualty reduction targets, a reduction in the drink-drive (BAC) limit and more efficient enforcement, double/single British Summertime and changes to the road network based on safe system principles. PACTS also calls on the Government to support road traffic injury prevention in international development work. PACTS intends to discuss these priorities with Government, political parties, parliamentarians, stake-holders and road safety partners over the coming months.
Comments and statements of support from PACTS members and others are welcome.
Reported road casualty statistics for Q2 2014
The DfT published Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: Quarterly Provisional Estimates Q2 2014 on 6th November. Road deaths increased by 3% compared to the year ending June 2013, to 1,760. Road users killed or seriously injured (KSI’s) increased by 4% over the same period 24,580. There was a decrease (0.4%) in pedestrian KSI’s but increases of 10% and 7% respectively for pedal cyclists and motorcyclists.
PACTS executive director, David Davies, commented: “It is worrying. We’ve had fairly consistent declines in road casualties – big drops from 2007 to 2010, and then a gentle decline – but now the fear is that after the cutbacks that have taken place in road safety and expertise, the chickens are coming home to roost.” (The Guardian)
Government and Parliamentary News
On the afternoon of Tuesday 18th November the Scottish Parliament will – almost certainly – approve the final legal step (a Statutory Instrument) to reduce the drink-drive limit in Scotland. The maximum permitted blood alcohol content will be reduced from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg/100ml. This will bring Scotland in line with almost every other EU member state. Only Malta, England and Wales (and Northern Ireland but hopefully not for much longer) will have a higher limit. It is being promoted by SNP Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill MSP and has the support of all parties, including SNP, Labour and LibDem, with the exception of the Conservatives.
Transport – particularly road safety – is already largely a devolved matter, decided in Scotland. The Smith Commission, established following the Independence Referendum, is considering what additional powers should devolved.
The Department for Transport (DfT) have issued their October Road Safety Briefing, 2014. This is a useful monthly update on Westminster Government road safety initiatives and the DfT is happy for PACTS to circulate it. This month includes
- 50 years since the first drink-drive ad;
- The drink-driving campaign for the November-December period, backed by ACPO’s enforcement campaign;
- The Cycling Delivery plan draft, open to consultation;
- Current DfT research projects into mobile phone use, seatbelt wearing and careless driving;
- The new Drug-Driving Offence which will come into force March 2015.
The Infrastructure Bill (2014-15) completed its Report stage (a line-by-line examination) in the House of Lords on 10th November. Lord Whitty succeeded in inserting two amendments on road safety. The amended Bill is available on the parliamentary website. The third reading of the Bill in the House of Lords will take place on 19th November after which it will start moves to the Commons.
The Transport Select Committee is well underway with its Motoring of the Future inquiry, which has completed its written evidence intake period and is now holding oral evidence sessions. The second oral evidence session was held on 3rd November. Further session will be announced and experts closely involved with PACTS are expected to be called. The Committee has also published its 7th Special Report of 2014-15 – the Government’s response to Cycling Safety.
Recent Written Parliamentary Questions on transport safety have focused on HGV speed limits, infrastructure and accidents.
Transport Oral Questions held on the 23rd October included several questions on infrastructure development, HGV speed limits, cycling and flight paths. The next Transport Oral Questions will take place on the 4th December.
In October the DfT answered a Freedom of Information request from PACTS about its research into the possible effects of a Graduated Driver Licensing scheme on the access to employment, education, training or leisure for young people – the grounds on which the Government decided against pursuing GDL. The reply showed that no research had been carried out.
The Transport Safety Commission will hold the final evidence session in its inquiry UK Transport Safety: who is responsible? on 20th November, 1-3pm in Thatcher Room, Portcullis House, Westminster. Witnesses will include Road Safety Minister, Robert Goodwill MP; former road safety minister David Jamieson (now West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner); and senior representatives from the ORR, HSE and CAA. The public is welcome to attend.
The Northern Ireland Road Safety Monitor 2014 was published on 30th October. The series monitors behaviour, attitudes and awareness of key road safety issues in Northern Ireland. The 2014 report reveals that a large majority (83 per cent) of respondents surveyed agreed that the police should be able to stop people at random and breathalyse them for driving under the influence of alcohol.
PACTS is pleased to announce two new members: the Road Operators’ Safety Council (ROSCO), an organisation dedicated to promoting the safety of the operators of road transport vehicles and their employees; and Diarmuid Fahy, Alphabet (a Professional Associate Member). We are also pleased to announce that The Institute of Traffic Accident Investigators has re-joined PACTS.
Additional information about PACTS events, presentations, etc. is available to members on the Members Area of the website. If you are uncertain of your login details, please contact PACTS Communications Officer Lucy Amos at office.PACTS@pacts.org.uk.