PACTS 21st Westminster Lecture on Transport Safety
Roads, casualties and public health: the open sewers of the 21st century?
1 Birdcage Walk
6pm 23rd November 2010
Lecture by Danny Dorling, Professor of Human Geography at the University of Sheffield
“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.” This month there have been a number of interesting written answers to parliamentary questions.
Bus Services: Visual Impairment
Mr Nuttall: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department is taking to (a) increase the level of accessibility of public transport for those with visual impairment and (b) assist such people with access to information on timetables, changes of routes and discontinued services.
Norman Baker: The Department recognises the importance of helping disabled people, including those with visual impairments, to travel on public transport more confidently and independently. We are taking a number of steps to ensure that levels of accessibility continue to improve on public transport.
Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations 2000 (PSVAR as amended) require buses to have accessibility facilities such as low floor boarding devices, visual contrast on step edges, handholds and handrails among others. Such improvements on buses are continuing, with all vehicles used on local or scheduled services required to be fully PSVAR compliant by 2015, 2016 and 2017, depending on the type of vehicle. All rail vehicles are required to meet modern standards by 2020.
Currently, 62% of buses and 45% of heavy rail comply with the regulations.
A large number of stations being funded from the Access for All Programme to make accessibility improvements will continue to have direct benefit to visually impaired passengers.
Audio-visual passenger information systems can be a key source of information to many disabled passengers. Such systems are already available on trains. On buses, however, the levels of provision vary outside London. The Department is therefore undertaking a project to consider ways of increasing the uptake of audio-visuals systems. The project is due to report shortly.
We are currently working to improve the accessibility information available to the public; the Transport Direct journey planner enables disabled people and people of reduced mobility to plan their journeys and will do so, for example, during the Olympic games. The Department also continues to work with ATOC to improve the Assisted Passenger Reservation Service for queries from disabled people on facilities and booking journey assistance.
For those who are not confident using public transport, the Department champions increased levels of travel training by local authorities, and is aiming to produce a website of good practice by the end of 2010.
In addition, we are working with industry to ensure that the training of transport staff continues to improve, as they are an obvious first point of contact for disabled people. To further this, we are extending the Certificate for Professional Competence (CPC) for driver training to include a disability module.
PACTS comment: As the UK has an ageing population the issue of people with disabilities travelling safely on public transport is an important one. Whilst many studies have been published looking at the older driver and the difficulties they face, PACTS feel there is a gap in research, and we are exploring the possibility of writing a report on ‘mobility for an ageing population’. This report would identify the main mobility challenges that an ageing population face, analyse the impact an ageing population will have on transport systems, and pinpoint areas where effective and achievable improvements can be made.
Road Safety: Finance
Steve McCabe: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how much his Department (a) has allocated and (b)plans to allocate to road safety in the financial year 2010-11; and how much was allocated in (i) 2008-09 and (ii) 2009-10.
Mike Penning: The UK has the safest roads in Europe and the Government wish to ensure that we maintain that position. However, the Government have made clear that their urgent priority is to tackle the UK’s record deficit in order to restore confidence in our economy and support the recovery. As a contribution to the in-year spending reductions as part of our programme to address the record deficit, we have reduced the planned level of road safety grant in 2010-11. At the same time, local authorities were given greater freedom and flexibility in the management of their finances and the use of grant funding streams.
Therefore, the fact that this grant has been reduced does not mean that the Government necessarily expect local authorities to reduce their road safety spending by a similar proportion. It is for local authorities and local communities to determine the priorities for their areas. The Department currently forecasts allocating £76.5 million towards dedicated road safety programmes and administration in 2010-11. It allocated £145.0 million in 2008/09 and £143.1 million in 2009-10 towards comparable activities.
These totals include the road safety funding stream in area based grant and the specific road safety grant. Other items included are expenditure on THINK! campaigns, road safety research and statistics, vehicle safety and related administration.
These totals do not include expenditure by the Department’s agencies, nor do they include funding support for other organisations used in part for, but not dedicated to, road safety (for example the integrated transport funding for local authorities and the block grant for Transport for London).
PACTS COMMENT: Mike Penning’s answer throws up some worrying points for road safety at this time. While the government say they wish to maintain the UK’s safe road record, their actions have the potential to threaten it. The passing of decision-making to local authorities has implications for road safety, as it coincides with the current road casualty reduction target ending in 2010. Without a national target or a strategy, it will be difficult for local authorities to justify prioritising spending in this area. PACTS has explored the risk to road safety in a report written with the RAC Foundation entitled Tackling the Deficit. The first of this two-part series is available on the website, with the second due to be published in February 2011. https://www.pacts.org.uk/briefings-and-articles.php?id=80
Dr Huppert: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what research his Department (a) is undertaking and (b) plans to undertake on measures to improve cyclists’ safety.
Norman Baker: The Department for Transport commissioned a research project looking at a range of road safety and cycling issues in August 2008 which has examined the following topics:
Road user safety and cycling data
Attitudes and behaviours
To date the Department has published three reports:
Collisions involving cyclists on Britain’s roads: Establishing the causes (December 2009) http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/research/rsrr/theme1/ppr445.pdf
The potential for cycle helmets to prevent injury: A review of the evidence (December 2009) http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/research/rsrr/theme1/ppr446.pdf
Cycling, safety and sharing the road: Qualitative research with cyclists and other road users (September 2010) http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/research/rsrr/theme1/researchreport/
A report on infrastructure and cycle safety is in progress.
PACTS COMMENT: The question on cyclists’ safety is significant due to the arrival of Barclays Bike Hire in London. The arrival of the Vélib in Paris actually saw a reduction in the accidents involving cyclists*, following the logic that as cyclists become more common, drivers look out for them more. However, the quarterly estimates of Reported Road Casualties published this week by DfT show cyclists to be the only road users with an increasing number of KSI casualties, when comparing July 2009 – June 2010 with the same period the previous year. This statistic is one to keep an eye on over the coming months. https://www.pacts.org.uk/news.php?id=548
“A large part of the work of the House of Commons and the House of Lords takes place in committees, made up of MPs or Lords. These committees consider policy issues, scrutinise the work and expenditure of the government, and examine proposals for primary and secondary legislation.”
Members of the public can attend committee meetings. More information is available at http://www.parliament.uk/visiting/attend/committees/
There is an oral evidence session next week which may be of interest:
ORAL EVIDENCE SESSION – The cost of motor insurance
Tuesday 9 November 2010 – Approx 10 am
Committee Room 8, House of Commons
At 10.15 am
* The Automobile Association
* The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries
* Duncan Anderson, EMB Consultancy
At 11.15 am
* The Association of British Insurers
* The British Insurance Brokers Association
* The Motor Accident Solicitors Society
* The Motor Insurers Bureau
These timings are approximate and the sessions may start slightly earlier or later than advertised.
New members of transport committee appointed
On Tuesday 2 November the House of Commons discharged the following members:
Angie Bray (Conservative, Ealing Central and Acton); Lilian Greenwood (Labour, Nottingham South), and Angela Smith (Labour, Penistone and Stocksbridge)
and formally appointed the following members:
Steve Baker (Conservative, Wycombe); Julie Hilling (Labour, Bolton West), and Gavin Shuker (Labour/Co-operative, Luton South)
The full committee is:
Mrs Louise Ellman (Labour/Co-operative, Liverpool Riverside) (Chair) Steve Baker (Conservative, Wycombe) Mr Tom Harris (Labour, Glasgow South) Julie Hilling (Labour, Bolton West) Kelvin Hopkins (Labour, Luton North) Kwasi Kwarteng (Conservative, Spelthorne) Mr John Leech (Liberal Democrat, Manchester Withington) Paul Maynard (Conservative, Blackpool North and Cleveleys) Gavin Shuker (Labour/Co-operative, Luton South) Iain Stewart (Conservative, Milton Keynes South) Julian Sturdy (Conservative, York Outer)
Hammond announces capital spending
The Secretary of State for Transport, Philip Hammond, has announced funding for sixteen new transport improvement projects. These include managed motorways schemes.
Transport and the spending review
The Department for Transport has today published details of how the Comprehensive Spending Review will affect the transport sector. Robert Gifford, Executive Director of PACTS, commented that while the new fund for sustainable transport refers to safety “It is unclear what the overall impact will be on road safety. Clearly substantial reductions in funding for local councils will mean that difficult decisions will have to be made. In addition, the abolition of national grants for road safety suggests that schemes of a national benefit such as Driving for Better Business may well be lost”.
Review of Health and Safety
Lord Young has today published a review of health and safety legislation, a task that he was asked to undertake by the Prime Minister. He concludes that, on balance, the 1974 Health and Safety at Work remains appropriate. However, he does suggest that the reporting requirement for injuries under RIDDOR should be lengthened from 3 to 7 days. PACTS will urge that careful thought be given to this change to ensure that injuries at work are not understated in future.
Benefits of High Speed rail
The European Commission has published a brochure on the benefits of High-speed lines (HSLs) offering European citizens a safe, fast, comfortable and ecological mode of transport.
As the clocks changed at the end of October, new evidence from Road Safety Analysis (RSA) and The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) makes clear that road traffic crashes are likely to increase for the first two weeks in November.
The findings have examined 6 full years of collision data supplied by the Department for Transport and show that the after the clocks ‘go back’ so the number of recorded injury crashes increases. The effect of DST has not been examined for a number of years and this new research highlights a number of important findings. https://www.pacts.org.uk/news.php?id=546
This report comes amid growing pressure to consider the effectiveness of Daylight SavingTime (DST) when previous studies have suggested that there could be significant human and financial savings from managing the change differently. The Lighter Later campaign has been very successful in raising awareness on this issue, and recently published a report on the effects of advancing the clocks on Scotland. The report found that although Scotland has traditionally been against the idea, the benefits would in fact be ‘at least as great’ as for the rest of the UK. https://www.pacts.org.uk/news.php?id=545
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