PACTS entered its third decade as a member, alongside all the main road safety stakeholders, of the Road Safety Advisory Panel appointed to advise Ministers on the implementation of the national strategy, and provided the Chair of the Panel’s Statistics Sub-Group advising on the monitoring of progress. PACTS also had an acknowledged role in helping to inform Parliamentarians and the public about current issues in rail safety, a continuing concern about fatigue on the flight deck, and a direct line to transport safety policy developments across Europe through its founder membership of the ETSC. In addition, the Executive Director was responding quite frequently, with the Board’s support, to requests to serve on safety-related national bodies where his growing expertise was of value. PACTS presence in Westminster found physical expression when its office moved early in 2003 from St Thomas’ Hospital to Clutha House, adjacent to Central Hall and the Queen Elizabeth Conference Centre. In 2005 PACTS charitable objective was amended to become To protect human life through the promotion of transport safety for the public benefit.
An early thrust of the national road safety strategy was to accelerate the application in speed management throughout the country of camera enforcement, which had been used first in Britain in 1992, but had since spread only slowly. Despite evidence of their effectiveness, cameras aroused hostility among some drivers, which was encouraged in the media. PACTS was able to support speed management, and in particular the appropriate use of camera enforcement, by issuing a further booklet Speeding – The Continuing Challenge making 20 recommendations for action, and a briefing countering some of the main arguments against the use of cameras. This led on to PACTS’ undertaking in 2005 a substantial research review of a range of issues related to technology and traffic enforcement, leading to the report Policing Road Risk: Enforcement, Technologies and Road Safety. PACTS was also a strong supporter of practical trials of intelligent speed adaptation (ISA) and gave evidence to the Transport Select Committee inquiry into road traffic speed in 2002.
In concert with an initiative by ETSC, a comprehensive briefing on next steps towards safer road vehicles was issued by PACTS early in 2002. Strong support was provided for the resumption of on-the-spot investigation of collisions and PACTS made a proposal for analysis of collision involvement of cars by year of first registration which has since enabled statistical modelling to quantify the contribution of improving occupant and pedestrian protection to casualty reduction. The 20th anniversary of compulsory front seatbelt wearing was marked by publishing a factsheet concerning the belt-wearing situation in Britain in January 2003.
In relation to the role of local authorities in implementing the national strategy, PACTS promoted the implementation of methodical urban and rural safety management, and pressed for a counterpart for rural safety management of the Gloucester Safer City demonstration of urban safety management – pressure which helped to lead to a programme across four counties later in the decade. PACTS also carried out research to investigate provision for road safety in the first round of Local Transport Plans under the Transport Act 2000 and how the concept of best value was working in relation to road safety. The resulting report Best Value, Local Transport Plans and Road Safety: Listening to and Learning from the Profession was published early in 2003 and emphasised that funding needed to be accompanied by availability of suitably skilled staff.
When the government consulted in 2002 about a more structured approach to learning to drive, PACTS supported proposals for mandatory logbooks and extending the learning period before the practical test, but expressed disappointment at lack of proposals for graduated driver licensing to address the high collision risk among newly qualified drivers. Resulting government proposals concentrated on ways of improving driving instruction and the driving test.
A PACTS conference in 2003 on what people want from the transport system in terms of safety made it clear that policy for safety on public transport needs to consider personal security of passengers as well as risk of accidents. Promotion by employers of safe use of the roads in the course of work grew strongly in importance as a contribution to road safety in the early years of the century, and PACTS held a conference about this in 2004, and pressed without success for traffic accidents in the course of work to be made reportable in the same way as other accidents at work.
The passage of each of two Bills early in 2005 led to significant interventions by Members associated with PACTS. In the House of Lords, an amendment to the Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill achieved police power to seize vehicles driven by unlicensed drivers, powers for the introduction of evidential roadside breath testing and police access to the motor insurance database. Evidential roadside breath testing was, however, delayed by a decade by dilatoriness in the type approval of equipment. In the House of Commons PACTS joined in pressing successfully for proposals to reduce penalties for lesser speeding offences to be removed from the Road Safety Bill, but an amendment moved by a PACTS Member to reduce the BAC limit from 80 to 50mg/100ml was defeated.
At the end of 2007 PACTS received a Prince Michael Road Safety Award for its effective advocacy for research-based and evidence-led policy proposals. For some years PACTS had had an informal group which helped the Executive Director and the Board with financial and management matters. In 2008 the Board formalised this arrangement by establishing a Management and Finance Committee with a remit extended to include marketing. At the same time it established a Policy and Research Committee to help to integrate the work of the working parties and look for synergies between PACTS’ concerns and issues of health, sustainability and urban design.
In 2007 thinking about road safety in Britain began to look beyond 2010, the end-date of the current national strategy, and PACTS was in the forefront with its comprehensive report Beyond 2010 – a holistic approach to road safety in Great Britain, calling for a third round of targets and a systems approach to policy development that would take full account of the many changes in society by involving the widest range of stakeholders. Progress so far in road casualty reduction in the UK in the European context was updated at a talk organised by PACTS in Westminster as part of the ETSC’s benchmarking programme PIN. Early in 2008, PACTS joined with ETSC in holding a talk about the value of alcolocks and progress across Europe in combating drink driving, A PACTS conference in March 2008 on the theme Beyond 2010 addressed a range of aspects of policy with workshops covering public health as well as specific road safety issues, and one of the papers was expanded as the research report Beyond 2010: The Role of Traffic Law Enforcement in Casualty Reduction.
In the Parliamentary Session 2007-08 the Transport Select Committee carried out a lengthy and wide-ranging inquiry into road safety, for which Robert Gifford acted as special advisor. A substantial submission by PACTS included calling again for the legal BAC limit to be reduced and drink driving enforcement to be strengthened by giving police powers for inclusive targeted breath testing and accelerating the type approval of evidential roadside testing equipment. It was a member of PACTS who provided the basis for the title of the inquiry report: Ending the Scandal of Complacency: Road Safety beyond 2010. The focus of this report on the adoption of a systems approach to casualty reduction was endorsed by the then government and underpinned the production of its early 2009 consultation paper A Safer Way, about road safety after 2010. Consultation by the Department for Transport in 2008 about road safety compliance provided an opportunity for PACTS to reiterate its concerns about drink driving issues as part of an extensive submission covering also questions of driver retraining and whether careless driving should become a fixed penalty offence.
Challenged in terms of funding by local consequences of global financial events of 2008, PACTS responded in two main ways. First it made a fresh declaration of its strategic objectives: to be at the forefront of shaping policy development in transport safety in order to be a strong advocate for research-based change; to be the leader in advocating the integration of transport safety considerations across the breadth of relevant policy development; and to be the pre-eminent independent authority in transport safety for Parliamentarians, practitioners and the media. Then it set out to link its pursuit of these objectives for transport safety to closely related concerns for public health, sustainability and the liveability of our surroundings in towns and villages. These links sought to identify synergies among and tensions between these concerns in order to draw support from the former and seek resolution of the latter in the interests of transport safety. First steps were a conference on Safety and Sustainability early in 2009 and embarking on a research project concerning shared space, which would report in 2010.
PACTS’ next contribution to thinking beyond 2010 was its research report Behave Yourself – Road Safety Policy in the 21st Century, addressing the challenges of influencing road user behaviour in ways which are necessary to achieving more responsible use of the road system in the interests of casualty reduction. Then in autumn 2009 the PACTS conference Beyond 2010: The Challenges Ahead addressed many of the issues raised by A Safer Way, and the 20th Westminster Lecture provided a challenging European perspective from The Netherlands under the title Putting People at the Centre: How to Enhance Road Safety in the 21st Century. PACTS made a strong response to A Safer Way, urging a stronger road safety vision and more ambitious targets for beyond 2010 than those proposed, and organised seminars for the Department for Transport as an input to the expected post-2010 strategy. With this in mind PACTS published the report Beyond 2010: Taking Stock and Moving Forward, discussing unevennesses in achievement under the strategy to 2010 and implications for the post-2010 strategy, which, however, failed to emerge before the election of 2010.
The research project on the concept of shared space and its implementation led to the report Kerb Your Enthusiasm, which identifies the potential for this concept to contribute to enhanced quality of the public realm, including enhanced safety of its users, and a process for realising this potential.
The Rail Safety Working Party followed installation of the Train Protection and Warning System through to completion, together with consideration of the timescale for eventual adoption of the European Rail Traffic Management System. It also followed the evolution of crashworthiness of passenger rolling stock, discussion of criteria for rail safety decisions and the introduction of the Confidential Incident Reporting and Analysis System CIRAS. Possible conflict between the openness required to enable learning from accidents on the one hand and the pursuit of issues of liability on the other was resolved by the creation of the Rail Accident Investigation Branch RAIB to deal with the former, leaving the latter to the Regulator. PACTS supported an amendment to the Bill providing for the establishment of the RAIB to require it to produce an annual report on rail safety. The Working Party also gave attention to a review of rail safety regulation in 2004-05 bringing regulation into line with European requirements, and a later review of law relating to level crossings, in connection with which it heard also how the issues are seen by a highway authority. The Working Party’s attention to this topic was recognised by the appointment of its first Chairman as a special advisor to the Select Committee on Transport for its inquiry into safety at level crossings, which reported in 2014. The Working Party encouraged work on station travel plans to address the contribution of risk in travelling to and from the station to the overall risk of travel by rail. It has also followed the evolving approaches of the Rail Safety and Standards Board and the Office of the Rail Regulator to risk control through management and to the measurement of safety performance. Attention has been given to safety issues in the use of the roads by rail industry staff in the course of their railway work alongside the continuing concern for their safety while working on the railway itself, and to the risks associated with the train-platform interface.
The Aviation Safety Working Party considered issues concerning the capacity of Air Traffic Control to maintain operational safety in the context of pressures on runway capacity, and also issues of impairment and stress. PACTS made a response to the government’s green paper on the future of aviation in respect of aviation safety culture. The value of the Confidential Human Factors Incident Reporting Programme CHIRP was recognised. The establishment of the European Aviation Safety Agency EASA and its role were kept under review, and following its establishment, PACTS joined with ETSC in forming a link with the Air Safety Group, thus securing shared representation in the EASA strategic safety initiative. The issue of flight time limitations has been kept under review and PACTS joined with BALPA in a Parliamentary Briefing in 2011 expressing concerns about changes recommended by EASA – concerns that have been reiterated as the recommendations have evolved and come to be adopted. Attention has also been given to working hours among maintenance staff, to cabin air quality and to the widespread adoption of electronic flight bags. A paper was published on the PACTS website about challenges facing the aviation sector, notably in the recruitment of pilots.
With a change of government in May 2010 came an overriding priority for deficit reduction and emphasis on localism which brought an end to earmarked road safety funding to local authorities and led to rethinking of the nature and role of national road safety strategy, including the eschewing of targets for casualty reduction. As a contribution to this rethinking, PACTS organised for the Department for Transport two seminars at which a range of road safety stakeholders had the opportunity to express their views to the responsible civil servants. Meanwhile PACTS had published its own briefing reaffirming the importance of shared responsibility in the safe system approach and the effectiveness of strategy and target setting, and had accepted a leading role in an informal alliance of stakeholders aiming to maintain the road safety effort in the changing circumstances. A number of members of this alliance joined with PACTS to produce a report Making it Count: spending choices which protect your community, urging local authorities, who were facing choices how to reduce their spending, to take full account of the implications of cuts in spending on road safety.
In this context, PACTS joined with a range of organisations and experts concerned with risks to children to publish a report drawing the attention of local authorities to the scale of death and injury to children on their roads and the importance of their work to reduce this. PACTS also embarked on a programme of research entitled Tackling the Deficit to monitor the response of road safety stakeholders to the challenge and opportunity presented by the changed financial climate. The first report At what cost to road safety? took stock in October 2010 of the situation in which initial cuts in funding had been made, but the government’s rethinking was still in progress.
Longer-standing concerns continued to receive attention. PACTS gave evidence to and welcomed the recommendations of the North Review on drink and drug driving and gave evidence in support of the recommendations to the subsequent inquiry by the Transport Select Committee. Following on from its research into shared space, PACTS’ autumn conference in 2010 addressed the contribution of street design to better and safer communities. PACTS also joined a Lighter Later coalition in support of a Private Member’s Bill to move towards introducing Central European Time; the bill reached Third Reading but was then talked out. The subsequent Westminster lecture presented death and injury on the roads as a public heath challenge of the 21st century. The spring 2011 conference addressed issues in improving performance and managing risk in use of the roads in the course of work.
In May 2011 PACTS co-ordinated the UK launch of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety, including the publication of commitments to action during the decade from more than 40 organisations involved in road safety. At the same event, the government launched its Strategic Framework for Road Safety, superseding A Safer Way and the associated consultation of 2009-10. Of concern to PACTS were first the substitution of forecasts of future numbers killed or injured for targets and the ambition that accompanies them, and an emphasis on bearing down on an irresponsible minority of drivers in contrast to the sharing of responsibility with the providers of infrastructure and vehicles that underlies the Safe System approach.
Earlier in 2011, PACTS brought together eminent representatives from the health sector to write to The Times making the case for lowering the drink-drive BAC limit in line with the recommendation in the North Review of drink and drug driving. PACTS welcomed government’s subsequent acceptance of many of the recommendations of the North Review, but regretted deeply the decision not to lower the BAC limit. The Select Committee’s recommendation to aim for a limit of 20mg/100ml in the longer term was seen as helping to justify deciding not to reduce the limit to 50mg/100ml in the short term.
Spring 2011 also saw publication of Where next for road safety?, the second report from the Tackling the Deficit programme, which found that pessimism in the road safety sector in the light of further cuts in funding was offset by enthusiasm and determination reflected in ideas for moving forward. Recommendations were made both to the sector and to the government.
Another letter coordinated by PACTS and published in The Times in July 2011 highlighted the need for Great Britain to be more ambitious in its approach to road safety. It was signed by four former Ministers for road safety (two Conservative and two Labour) in order to demonstrate the cross-party commitment to road safety that needed to be retained. The letter was also signed by researchers, practitioners, private sector organisations and advocacy groups, and argued for a halving of road deaths by 2020 in line with the declaration of European Ministers of Transport in December 2010.
In parallel with a research project on the challenge of enabling older people to enjoy mobility and independence in ways that are safe for themselves and for others, PACTS’ autumn conference addressed various aspects of this challenge. The Westminster Lecture was on the links between safety and sustainability.
Early in 2012 The Transport Select Committee took evidence concerning the effectiveness of the Strategic Framework for Road Safety and PACTS coordinated a joint submission by 15 organisations involved in road safety, which included emphasis on the importance of political leadership and vision, and the effectiveness of targets for casualty reduction. The Committee’s report called for stronger political leadership on road safety. In the implementation of the Framework, the Executive Director was appointed to the Department for Transport’s Implementation Group and was involved in the Programme Board for the Road Safety Observatory.
PACTS spring conference entitled Aiming for Zero took as its theme the need for Great Britain to become more ambitious in its approach to road safety, and agreed a Declaration setting out the need for a British vision for road safety encompassing the Safe System approach. By producing a briefing, PACTS supported an initiative by The Times to get more people cycling more safely, which was taken up in Parliament in the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Croup’s inquiry Get Britain Cycling. PACTS submitted evidence to this inquiry, and was invited to join the Department for Transport’s Cycling Forum to help ensure that safety issues are addressed in its work.
PACTS adopted revised strategic objectives to: act as an advocate for research-based change in order to shape policy for transport safety; promote the integration of transport safety considerations throughout relevant policy development; be the recognised independent authority on transport safety for Parliamentarians, practitioners and the media; encourage and support those working in transport safety by raising Parliamentarians’ awareness of the challenges facing their sector; and be an active partner in the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety by fostering the development of high quality research and researchers to undertake it. PACTS’ understanding of transport safety in the context of its charitable objective was set out in an extended definition.
The research report It’s my choice: safer mobility for an ageing population was published by PACTS in March 2012, addressing the safety of older people using all means of transport and their need for help in making choices in retaining and exercising their independence, and making wide-ranging recommendations. In May, the final report from the Tackling the Deficit programme was published with the title Checking the Health of Road Safety. This was based on a survey of local authorities carried out jointly with ADEPT and TAG, found support for the Declaration from the March conference Aiming for zero and concluded that over half of the authorities felt that their statutory duty to promote road safety would be compromised by loss of expertise, lack of funding, reductions in staffing or changes in organisation. This finding was supported by an IAM survey of reductions in local authority spending on road safety work. The situation in London provided an exception and PACTS joined a pan-London panel to help develop the Mayor’s road safety plan. Looking more widely, it joined with six other national organisations to publish in January 2013 Road safety: A Guide for Local Councillors in England to set out the responsibilities of local authorities for road safety and ways of carrying them out.
PACTS’ autumn conference addressed issues of driving while impaired by alcohol or other drugs, both recreational and pharmaceutical, in the context of the government’s response to the North Review. The Westminster Lecture in 2012, entitled Managing for ambitious road safety results, set road safety policy and practice in Britain firmly in its global context and provided clear pointers to priorities for PACTS in the subsequent years.