August is the holiday season for many people but there is still plenty of transport safety news and activity. We summarise here some significant items – from global to local – and wish you a relaxing and enjoyable break. And, of course, safe travel.
The UN has agreed to include road safety targets in its post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. The FIA Foundation reports that “A specific stand-alone target in the Health Goal to reduce road traffic fatalities by 50% by 2020 and a target on sustainable urban transport in the Cities Goal have been approved, in a landmark achievement for the global road safety community.”
The FIA Foundation has worked tirelessly on this and PACTS congratulates them on this vital achievement. PACTS will be encouraging the UK Government to support the formal adoption of the targets by the UN in September and the UK Departments of Transport and International Development to use their expertise and budgets to help make the targets a reality.
UK Government and Parliamentary News
Department for Transport
UK Government Roads Minister Andrew Jones MP has held a series of meetings with stakeholders to hear their priorities for road safety. PACTS has put forward its priorities and supported a wider agenda compiled by a coalition of road safety groups. A new national road safety strategy is anticipated from the Department for Transport in the autumn. PACTS hopes this will reflect the commitment in the Conservative Party Manifesto 2015 “to reduce the number of cyclists and other road users killed or injured on our roads every year”.
What the Government strategy will include remains to be seen. At a parliamentary reception the minister said “cutting the number of road crash victims is a major priority for this government, and I will not rule out any measure that could save lives”. However, PACTS understands that casualty reduction targets, a lower drink-drive limit and graduated driver licensing (all ruled out by the previous Government) will not feature.
It is often said that UK transport policy suffers from too-frequent changes in personnel and structure at the Department for Transport (DfT). However, apart from a change of roads minster, there has been relatively little change since the election. Inevitably some faces have changed and DfT has issued an organisational chart showing Ministers and senior staff.
Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: Main Results 2014 published by DfT on 25th June showed a 4% increase in deaths, a 5% increase in those seriously injured and a 6% increase in slight casualties between 2013 and 2014. PACTS Executive Director David Davies commented “This should be a wakeup call for the Governments and Administrations across the UK to take action so casualties go down not up”. The DfT also released a series of road casualty factsheets for different groups, including pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and children. It has also published estimates for drink drive casualties in 2013 and 2014 and provisional casualties for the first quarter of 2015.
The DfT published a Code of Practice for Driverless Cars on 19th July providing guidelines on the testing of automated vehicles within the UK whilst maintaining safety. This was accompanied by the launch of a £20million competitive fund for collaborative research and development into driverless vehicles.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) published its response to its consultation on modernising the compulsory basic motorcycle training course, a result of the DVSA’s commitment to “improving the safety of young motorcycle riders by reviewing the compulsory basic training” in its Business Plan 2014/15.
There has been considerable activity at Highways England which took over responsibility for the Strategic Road Network in England from the Highways Agency on 1st April. It is working to implement the programme set out in the Government’s Road Investment Strategy 2015-2020 (“RIS1”). This includes a £105 million budget for road safety measures.
Recognising the long lead times on major schemes the DfT and Highways England have begun discussions with stakeholders on RIS2. This covers six Strategic Studies, including a trans-Pennine tunnel and an Oxford-Cambridge Expressway.
There will be further information about Highway England’s approach to road safety at the PACTS conference (see below) partnered by Highways England.
Devolved Governments and administrations
Northern Ireland Assembly
The introduction of lower drink-drive limits and graduated driver licensing (GDL) for learner and new drivers in Northern Ireland has moved closer. The Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill includes lower drink-drive limits, a more structured approach to driver training including a minimum six-month learning period and the possibility of motorway lessons. There would be restrictions on young newly qualified drivers carrying passengers for six months after passing the test. The Bill now moves to the Further Consideration stage in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
Transport Scotland has published its Road Safety Framework Annual Report 2014. The 2014 casualty figures show that Scotland is on track to meet the 2015 milestone for its casualty reduction targets for deaths and child casualties. Achieving the 43% milestone for serious injury casualty reduction is possible though less certain.
Transport Scotland is undertaking a strategic mid-term review of its Road Safety Framework during 2015. Together with partners they will assess progress made since 2009 and consider whether the priorities set in 2009 should remain through to 2020 or whether to refocus the priority areas.
RoadSafety Wales has focused on motorcyclist safety, including BikeSafe Cymru workshops led by the police and subsidised by some local authorities.
The Welsh Fire & Rescue Services has published a Road Safety Strategy 2015-2020.
London Mayor, Boris Johnson, has committed the city to a 50% reduction in those killed and seriously injured (KSI) on the capital’s roads by 2020 (from the 2005-9 baseline). This announcement came following the early achievement of London’s original KSI reduction target of 40%. More information is available in the Transport for London Casualties in Greater London Factsheet: 2014.
Other UK Parliamentary News
Once again the UK Government allotted the Chair of the Transport Select Committee to the official opposition party and Mrs Louise Ellman MP (Labour) was re-elected unopposed on 17th June. The 10 other Committee members, reflecting the party composition of the UK Parliament, were formally appointed on 8th July. These are: Robert Flello MP (Labour); Mary Glindon MP (Labour); Karl McCartney MP (Conservative); Stewart Malcom McDonald MP (Scottish National Party); Mark Menzies MP (Conservative); Huw Merriman MP (Conservative); Will Quince MP (Conservative); Iain Stewart MP (Conservative); Graham Stringer MP (Labour) and Martin Vickers MP (Conservative).
The Committee has held one evidence session to date – on Government rail policy and Network Rail’s performance. New inquiries are likely to be announced in September.
The Committee has published the Motoring of the Future: Government Response to the 8th Report of Session 2014-2015 on 24th July. The Government does not directly address the Committee’s detailed recommendation on setting an objective to reduce or eliminate of fatalities and serious injuries on the roads. The Government accepts that there will be a transition period when autonomous vehicles and traditional vehicles will have to interact but it does not support the Transport Committee’s recommendation of a new strategy document to provide guidance.
It has also published Investigating the Railway: Network Rail’s Response to the Committee’s Seventh Report of Session 2014-2015 which highlights Network Rail’s commitment to ensure that “becoming more efficient and delivering better value for taxpayers and passengers will never be at the expense of safety”.
Transport Parliamentary Questions were held on 16th July during which the issues of the Highways England motorway upgrades, road conditions and investment, EU port regulations, low-emission vehicles and cycling safety were raised. Further details are on the PACTS website and the full session is available on the Parliamentary Hansard.
Written Parliamentary Questions on transport safety topics in June and July covered aviation: cabin air quality; and roads: accidents; cycling; large goods vehicles and road signs and markings. An overview is available on the PACTS website; whilst all written parliamentary questions are available on the Parliamentary Hansard- written questions and answers page.
Bills and Acts
Simon Hoare MP (North Dorset) has introduced a Private Member’s Bill calling for a ban on pavement parking. The Pavement Parking (Protection of Vulnerable Pedestrians) Bill 2015-16 had its first reading on 24th June. There was no debate. The second reading is scheduled for 4th December 2015 during which a debate may take place. The Bill can be tracked here on the Parliamentary Website.
The House of Commons rose on the 22nd July and will next sit on Monday 7th September 2015.
The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) has published its 9th Road Safety Performance Index (PIN) Report, revealing that 25,845 people were killed in the 28 member states of the EU in 2014 as a consequence of road collisions compared to 26,009 in 2013, a decrease of 0.6%. ETSC reported that, of the 32 countries monitored by the PIN Programme, 18 registered a drop in the number of road deaths between 2013 and 2014, 13 saw an increase while progress stagnated in one country.
The ETSC report was based on provisional casualty figures for the UK. The final figures (reported above) show that Malta (24) and Sweden (28) had fewer road deaths per million population than the UK and Norway (both 29).
PACTS has re-registered as an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) in the new Parliament. The following APPG parliamentary officers have been elected for 2015/16:
- Chair – Barry Sheerman MP (Labour/Co-op)
- Vice-chairs – Jim Fitzpatrick MP (Labour), Sir Peter Bottomley MP (Conservative), Stephen Hammond MP (Conservative), Viscount Simon (Labour) and Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (Green).
Councillor Judith Rowley and Professor Richard Allsop stood down as members of the PACTS Board of Directors and Trustees in July. At the PACTS Members meeting Barry Sheerman thanked them for their many years of service. Professor Allsop will remain with PACTS in an advisory capacity on the Policy and Research Committee and represent PACTS on the ETSC Board.
At the joint PACTS/ Air Safety Group meeting in Portcullis House in July, Martyn Clarke from RPS Risk Management gave a presentation on Drone Impacts on Commercial Air Transport to Parliamentarians.
PACTS autumn conference Managing Road Safety will be held on Tuesday 3rd November in Birmingham Council House. It will explore the practicalities of the safe system approach to road safety management on local and national roads. Our main partners for the event will be Highways England and Birmingham City Council. For those interested in securing a place at the early bird rate, please contact the PACTS Events Manager, Joanne Mackel, at email@example.com.
Despite the tube strike, the PACTS Members’ Meeting and AGM on 9th July was well attended. For those unable to be there, the presentations on the Transport Safety Commission, the Constituency Road Safety Dashboard and the PACTS report Road safety since 2010, and the reports of the Working Parties are available on the Members Area of the PACTS website.
The results of the elections (all unopposed) for Working Party Chairs were:
- Road Environment: Heather Ward, UCL
- Road User Behaviour: Professor Oliver Carsten, University of Leeds
- Vehicle Design: Richard Cuerden, TRL
- Rail Safety: David Morris, CIRAS
A vacancy exists for the aviation safety role.
PACTS is pleased to announce that insurance companies Hastings Direct and Allianz have become corporate members of PACTS.