Commenting on figures published today by the Department for Transport showing road deaths at an all-time low, Robert Gifford, Executive Director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), said “These figures are obviously a good news story for the road safety profession and for the community that it serves. They are the result of over 20 years commitment to improving safety by successive governments of all parties and by the public, private and professional sectors. That said, we should not ignore the fact that each of the deaths and serious injuries will affect families for years to come. We also cannot ignore the fact that any of the slight injury crashes could have been more serious if other factors had intervened.
“It is especially good to note that car occupant deaths have fallen by 46% since 2006. This is more than the effect of the recession. It shows that improvements in car design, increased levels of enforcement via safety cameras and drink-drive campaigns and investment in road engineering make a real difference.
“One issue of concern is the rise for the third year running of casualties among cyclists. These deaths and injuries have risen by 6% since 2007. At the same time, estimated cycling levels have risen by 17%. Perhaps we are now beginning to see the impact of “safety in numbers”. The policy objective at which to aim must be to get more people cycling more safely.
“What these figures do now throw into question is the relevance of the forecasts contained in the DfT’s Strategic Framework for Road Safety. On current trends, we can achieve the central projection on deaths within two years. Even the forecast for 2030 of a reduction of 10% is easily within our grasp.
“Sweden has shown the rest of Europe that the Vision Zero approach, backed up by a commitment to systematic analysis of the right intervention, makes a real difference. Our government should aim not merely to emulate but to overtake Sweden, offering real leadership to the rest of the world in the UN Decade of Action. The last four years show that with commitment and leadership real progress can be made. Great Britain now has a real opportunity to lead the world. I urge the government to take it.”