Transport Select Committee
The Secretary of State’s priorities for transport
The House of Commons Transport Committee has published the uncorrected transcript of its evidence session on priorities for the Secretary of State, Philip Hammond MP, which took place on Monday July 26.
Transport Committee Inquiry – Drink & drug driving law
The Transport Committee has invited interested parties to submit written evidence for a short inquiry into drink and drug driving law, setting out their views on Sir Peter North’s recommendations. The deadline for submission of evidence by Tuesday 31 August.
Contributors were asked to focus on the following issues:
• Should the permitted blood alcohol limit be reduced as proposed?
• If so, is the mandatory one year driving ban appropriate for less severe offenders, at the new (lower) level?
• How severe is the problem of drug driving and what should be done to address it?
• What wider costs and benefits are likely to result from changes to drink and drug driving law?
• What would be the implications of such changes for enforcement?
Transport Committee Inquiry – Transport and the economy
The relationship between transport and the UK’s long-term economic growth was investigated at length by Sir Rod Eddington in 2006. The priorities for investment were identified as reducing congestion in urban areas, on key inter-urban corridors and at key international gateways (major ports and airports). The Transport Select Committee will inquire into whether conditions have materially changed since Sir Rod’s report and what the priorities should now be, in order to deliver growth, both nationally and regionally.
Daylight Saving Private Members’ Bill
Rebecca Harris, Conservative MP for Essex Castle Point tabled a Private Members’ Bill to require the Secretary of State to conduct an analysis of the costs and benefits of introducing daylight saving time and then act on the results.
Daylight saving time means putting the clocks forward by one hour to make the days lighter. It would make journeys home from schools much safer for children during the winter months. It is estimated that this could save 100 lives each year on our roads, and prevent many more serious injuries.
The environmental campaign group 10:10 brought together charities to campaign together on this issue under the banner of the ‘Lighter Later’ campaign. They have highlighted evidence that as well as improving road safety, putting the clocks forward has the potential to significantly reduce the amount of energy we use in the winter months, cutting carbon emissions by an estimated 447,000 tonnes and offer other social and economic benefits.
The bill is due to have its second reading on 3 December 2010.
PACTS COMMENTS ON 2009 PROVISIONAL ESTIMATES FOR ROAD ACCIDENTS INVOLVING ILLEGAL ALCOHOL LEVELS
The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety has observed that the provisional numbers of road deaths involving illegal alcohol levels in 2009 are lower than in 2008 despite the number of accidents involving illegal alcohol levels remaining unchanged. Commenting on the provisional results, Eleanor Besley, Policy and Research Officer at PACTS, said:
“It is reassuring to see a 5 per cent fall in the number of deaths and more than an 8 per cent reduction in the number of serious injuries in collisions involving illegal alcohol levels, particularly as this year’s figures show a consistency with the overall trend of important reductions in death and injury on British roads.
The steady decrease since 2002 in numbers seriously injured in collisions involving illegal alcohol levels has continued for another year. A third successive year with around 400 deaths in collisions involving illegal alcohol levels confirms that such deaths are now clearly fewer than the numbers in the 500s that prevailed for a decade previously.
However, these deaths fell by only 2.5 per cent between 2007 and 2008 (final figures) and only 5 per cent between 2008 and 2009 (provisional figure), whereas the corresponding falls in all road deaths were 14 per cent and 12 per cent. Road deaths involving illegal alcohol levels had levelled earlier in the decade at around 18 per cent of all road deaths. The large reduction in alcohol-related deaths in 2007 brought the percentage down to 14, but the small reductions in the last two years mean that illegal levels of alcohol featured in an estimated 17 per cent of all road deaths in 2009. So deaths related to illegal drink driving once again represent a rising proportion of all road deaths.
This rising proportion reinforces the importance of acting promptly and positively on the recommendations made in Sir Peter North’s recently published report which recommended, among other things, a reduction in the current prescribed blood alcohol limit in section 11(2) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 of 80 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood to 50 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood and the equivalent amounts in breath and urine. Today’s figures highlight the significance of such a move. Sir Peter quotes estimates suggesting that his recommendation could save between at least 43 and around 168 lives in the first year and that this number could be higher in subsequent years.
The total value of prevention of the estimated number of road deaths and serious injuries involving illegal alcohol levels in 2009, without allowing for the under-reporting of accidents, was over £1 billion.
Driving above the current BAC limit continues to contribute to nearly 400 deaths per year, yet alcohol increases risks more widely, influencing those people driving within the current BAC limit but under the influence of alcohol to contribute to about another 200 deaths and an important number of injuries each year.
It is hoped that the evidence received during the forthcoming Transport Select Committee enquiry into drink and drug driving law will further emphasize the importance of reducing the BAC limit as part of a wider public health approach to improving road safety.
The provisional figures published today underline the significant relationship between drink-drive and road death. It is vital that the government prioritizes a commitment to reducing levels of drinking and driving and thus levels of alcohol-related road death and injury as part of a wider commitment to improving road safety beyond 2010. There is still a great deal to be done.”
Commission outlines measures to halve road deaths by 2020
The European Commission has adopted challenging plans to reduce the number of road deaths on Europe’s roads by half in the next 10 years. Initiatives proposed in a set of European Road Safety Policy Orientations 2011-2020 range from setting higher standards for vehicle safety, to improving the training of road users, and increasing the enforcement of road rules. The Commission will work closely with Member States to implement this programme.
Drug-driving test equipment to be trialled
The government is planning trials of equipment to test if drivers are under the influence of drugs. The move could lead to a roll-out of the technology across all police forces in England, Scotland and Wales within two years.
Manufacturers are to be given specifications for the devices by the end of September. It follows publication of a review into the problem of drug-driving, which found that major changes were needed. The review by Sir Peter North, which was published in June, concluded that the drug-driving problem was “out of all proportion” to the official figures. That is partly because of the difficulty in testing for drugs, which means many cases go unrecorded.
At the moment police first need a doctor to decide whether the suspect has a “condition which might be due to a drug”, and then a blood test has to be carried out. Getting a doctor to the police station and the examination itself both take time – and could mean the drugs have left the suspect’s system before the blood sample is taken.
There is another reason for thinking the current figures relating to drug-driving – 56 fatal accidents and 207 serious injury accidents in 2008 – are too low. If a suspect has been breathalysed and found to be over the drink-drive limit, police will rarely continue with further tests to decide if drugs are present too.
The government now says it will give manufacturers specifications for new testing equipment by the end of September. The resulting products are set to be trialled in police stations within a year and then rolled out to forces within two years.
The specifications are still being decided, but it is understood the Home Office wants the equipment to be capable of testing for the most common drugs, such as cannabis and cocaine.
It is not known yet if the test will use a sample of a suspect’s saliva, as suggested by Sir Peter. What is also uncertain is whether there will be a drug-drive limit, similar to the drink-drive limit, based on the level of driving impairment. An alternative approach would be zero tolerance, where any amount of illegal drugs resulted in a prosecution regardless of whether driving was impaired.
The Home Office and Department for Transport are also to spend £300,000 on research into roadside testing equipment, with the eventual aim that all evidence for prosecutions could be gathered on site by traffic police. The money will also be used to develop technology that can test for a wider range of drugs than is currently possible.
Drivers supervising learners risk breaking law, says AA
Drivers are risking fines, disqualification or jail because they do not know the rules on supervising learners, according to the AA.
The motoring group’s survey of 19,000 members suggested nearly a quarter did not know it was illegal to use a mobile phone while out with a learner driver.
Nearly one in 10 respondents was unaware falling asleep was not allowed.
The law states that somebody supervising a learner driver is effectively in control of the car.
The AA said that in one case a supervisor was jailed after the learner was involved in a crash that killed two people.
It said many learners benefited from time spent with more experienced drivers, but suggested short driving courses for supervisors might be needed.
Child Casualties Report 2010
Child Casualties Report 2010 is the first national report published by Road Safety Analysis Limited, the team behind MAST Online. The research is based on five years’ data covering over 120,000 child road casualties and is the first time that such a detailed study has been conducted. The findings indicate that children living in Preston are more than twice as likely to be injured on the road than the national average, and five times more likely than those in Kensington & Chelsea.
In a report titled “Child Casualties 2010; A study into resident risk of children on roads in Great Britain 2004-08”, the level of risk children are exposed to is compared across 408 local authority areas and shows that children living in some areas have almost a one in 200 chance of being injured each year. Using Experian’s Mosaic profiling tool, Road Safety Analysis has also been able to show that areas with a greater prevalence of deprivation are also at much greater risk than those from more affluent areas.
The report can be previewed online now at:
ORR concludes review of RSSB, and recommends changes to help industry achieve excellence in health and safety management
The role of RSSB should be adapted so it can better facilitate excellence in health and safety management across the entire rail industry, the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) has concluded following a review of the railway industry’s standards body.
The regulator has made a series of recommendations including: reviewing the structure of RSSB’s board, changing the way that research is commissioned and used by duty holders, and reducing delays and unnecessary compromise in the management of the railway group standards.
Commenting on the review, Ian Prosser ORR’s director of railway safety said: “Since 2003, RSSB has played a key role in helping to make significant improvements to health and safety in the rail industry. We want to help RSSB prepare to meet the challenges ahead so that it can go on supporting the industry.”
To view ORR’s RSSB review report, visit: http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/upload/pdf/rssb-review-report-020810.pdf
The Law Commission and Scottish Law Commission are conducting a joint review of the law relating to level crossings. http://www.lawcom.gov.uk/docs/cp194.pdf
The consultation period will run until 30 November 2010.
We’ve been busy throughout August working on drafts for policy briefings and think pieces looking at Speed Management, Children and Young People and Local Delivery of Road Safety. We’ve also been preparing written evidence for the Transport Select Committee enquiry into drink and drug driving law and their enquiry on Transport and the Economy. If you have any questions about developments on these please do get in touch with Ellie on Eleanor.email@example.com or on 0207 222 7732.
We thought it might be useful if we provided a quick round-up of transport safety research and developments that we’d heard about over the last two months. If you’d like us to include your research in future newsletters, or send us something we haven’t spotted then please get in touch with Ellie on Eleanor.firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0207 222 7732.
The Road Safety Knowledge Centre is up and running and has a growing wealth of research content. See http://www.roadsafetyknowledgecentre.org.uk/
A number of road safety organisations have prepared a joint statement defending the speed camera http://www.rospa.com/news/releases/detail/default.aspx?id=880
RoSPA have publishes a policy paper on the Rural Road Environment http://www.rospa.com/roadsafety/policy/statements/rural-roads.aspx
EURORAP latest statistics 2010 http://www.eurorap.org/
UK Transport Knowledge Centre, headed-up by Professor Peter Jones at UCL, has been launched and plans official launch events in November http://www.uktrc.ac.uk/research
Local Delivery of Road Safety Event
23rd September 2010, Avonmouth House, London
PACTS will be holding an afternoon discussion forum to explore the challenges and opportunities for local road safety delivery within the policy context of the new coalition government. We hope the afternoon will be a useful information gathering session which will help us link national policy developments to local delivery approaches and widen our understanding of how road safety will be taken forward as part of wider policy agendas.
Transport for London (TfL) has kindly offered to host the event in the Green Room at Avonmouth House in Elephant and Castle, London. Though the afternoon will focus on understanding the local delivery perspective, we have invited Paul O’Sullivan (Road User Safety, Department for Transport) and Kevin Pearson (Chief Fire Officers Association) David Snelling (Association of Chief Police Officers) and Stuart Hallett (Norfolk Road Casualty Reduction Partnership) to get us started and introduce the political climate. Following the brief presentations, we will break into discussion groups to consider a range of specific topics before summarising and prioritising the next steps.
Better, Safer Communities: the contribution from street design
6 October 2010, Royal Society of Medicine, One Wimpole Street, London
Over the last few years, there has been considerable professional, political and media interest in new approaches to street design. Shared space, de-cluttering, the naked street and simplified streetscape are all terms in common use. A key theme is the extent to which it is possible through the use of these – or other approaches – to manage the tension better between place and link, between mobility and liveability.
This conference, following on from the publication of PACTS’ report on “Shared Space” will offer an opportunity to reflect on the challenges facing urban development. Can we ensure environments that are good for walking and cycling and offer improved safety? To what extent do current practices help or hinder the development of new approaches? How can we balance safety and other policy objectives such as the improvement of the public realm?
Join us at this conference to debate these issues and to hear from a range of key speakers including
John Dales, Urban Initiatives
Andy Best, Transport for London
Richard Kimberlee, University of the West of England
Sabine Lutz, Shared Space Foundation
Alex Allen, Sustrans
Eleanor Besley, PACTS
Andy Cameron, WSP UK
Full details including a booking form have already been circulated. You can also book online at: www.pacts.org.uk
If you are interested in your organisation having a stand in the exhibition area at the conference please contact Robert Gifford at Robert.Gifford@pacts.org.uk
Roads, casualties and public health: the open sewers of the 21st century?
21st Westminster Lecture and ETSC’s 12th European Transport Safety Lecture
Tuesday 23 November 2010, One Bird Cage Walk, SW1H 9JJ
Every century comes with a major public health warning about the harm that we inflict on ourselves. In Britain in the nineteenth century it was the diseases we spread by tolerating open sewers. In the twentieth century it was tobacco that we slowly learnt to love, then fear. In the twenty first century it is the way we tolerate how cars are allowed to travel on our roads. Accidents involving cars are responsible for more deaths among children and young adults in Britain than can be attributed to any other causes.
What remains the same over time is our intolerance of suffering, of ourselves and those around us. Slowly, one by one, the causes of the greatest damage to health are progressively removed. This lecture brings together maps, statistics and arguments to suggest that we should now view our road transport system as the greatest current avoidable toll on public health.
Danny Dorling is Professor of Human Geography at the University of Sheffield. Danny’s current research interests include the visualization of spatial social structure through drawing atlases and the changing social, medical and political geographies of Britain as revealed by the 2001 Census.
This year, the lecture will be undertaken jointly with our sister organisation the European Transport Safety Council, making this the first ‘European Transport Safety Lecture’ to be held in the UK.
To book online go to https://www.pacts.org.uk/events.php?id=16
After nearly three years working at PACTS, Gillian Reeves, Communications and Conference Manager is leaving to take up a new post at the Hansard Society. Gillian will be replaced by Sally Verkaik who previously worked for PACTS until 2005.
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