2014 is likely to have a crucial bearing on the policies of the next UK Government. PACTS wants to ensure that road safety features highly. As we approach parliamentary elections in Europe and all parts of the UK, current road safety plans and programmes are nearing completion. The PACTS UK Road Safety Summit, on 27th March in central London, will outline the priorities, challenges and constraints for road safety in the UK in 2015 and beyond. This event will provide an opportunity for delegates to put questions and ideas to those likely to be responsible for developing future road safety strategies and policy implementation. The Summit is sponsored by esure; DfT, Transport Scotland, DoE NI and TfL are official Summit partners. For details and booking please click here.
DfT published Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: Quarterly Provisional Estimates Q3 2013 on 6th February 2014, showing a 2% drop in deaths between the year ending September 2012 and September 2013. The number of Killed and Seriously Injured (KSI) casualties fell by 6%, to 23,380, and the total number of casualties fell by 7% to 184,010.
Comparing quarters, July 2013 to September 2013 (Q3) 470 people were killed in reported road accidents, unchanged from the same period in 2012; serious and slightly injured casualties fell 3% and 4% respectively. There were, however, increases in the number of motorcyclists (1%) and pedal cyclists (8%) casualties between Q3 2012 and Q3 2013. These increases were partially attributed to high rainfall between July and September 2012, 21% higher than the average for this period, reducing the number of cyclists and motorcyclists on the roads.
The timetable for future DfT statistical publications is available here on the DfT website.
The Government admitted at the end of last year that it would not be publishing a Green Paper on young driver safety during 2013 as promised in the DfT Business Plan. It is also now clear that the Government has dropped proposals for Graduated Driver Licensing, and plans instead to investigate increased driver training and telematics. In an open letter from road safety groups PACTS has called for the publication of the Green Paper, including Graduated Driver Licensing.
PACTS Chairman Barry Sheerman has sponsored an Early Day Motion (EDM) on young driver safety, deploring the Government’s Green Paper U-turn, which has 24 signatures to date.
The DfT has issued its Response to the Consultation on Integrated Transport Block Funding (19th December 2013). This has reduced the priority for road safety in the funding formula, in favour of reducing carbon (Q3). A further change is that the calculation will now be based on a casualty rate (casualties /billion vehicle miles) (Q17). (PACTS submitted evidence to this consultation available here.)
The DfT consultation for speed limit exemptions has concluded (final report published 13th January 2014). The focus was to indicate certain other vehicles to be included in the speed limit exemption regulations and prescribe a high speed training course that drivers must undertake before they are legally allowed to exceed speed limits.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has published AS332 Super Puma Helicopter (G-WNSB), following an incident in the Shetland Isles near Sumburgh airport. The report analyses the use of emergency breathing systems and the awareness that passengers aboard an off-shore helicopter such as the Super Puma would have of these systems to increase their chances of survival should the aircraft ditch into the sea.
The draft Deregulation Bill received its second reading in the House of Commons on the 3rd February, The Bill includes the removal of the ‘statutory option’ whereby drivers who fail a breath test can demand to have a blood test. The Bill includes the clause that there would be ‘no need for preliminary breath test before evidential breath test’ with regards to road transport and in the case of rail removes the ‘restriction that evidential breath test must be taken at police station’. The Bill can be tracked here on the parliamentary website.
The Transport Select Committee has recently inquired into several aspects of transport safety. They held an oral evidence session in January at the University of Aberdeen, seeking expert opinion in the wake of the recent helicopter deaths in the off-shore sector. Additionally, the Committee is inquiring into the draft national policy statement on the strategic road network, which sets out the policy against which the Secretary of State for Transport will make decisions on national roads an rail infrastructure planning applications. The Committee is currently seeking written views on the draft statement, including safety aspects, by 26th February.
The Select Committee has requested ideas for future inquiries. PACTS has recommended an inquiry into young driver safety and supported a submission by RSA and others for an inquiry into eye-health and road safety.
During January there were safety-orientated transport questions on the recent weather, drug-driving, heavy goods vehicle legislation, tyres, cycling, the absence of the young driver Green Paper and major road and rail infrastructure schemes, particularly “Smart” motorways. There were also questions on the safety aspects of aircraft, primarily helicopters and unmanned aircraft.
In November PACTS Executive Director David Davies called on the London Mayor to hold a cycling safety summit. The Mayor has now invited PACTS and others to a summit on 10th March 2014. PACTS supports the increases in cycling and supports action to improve safety for cyclists based on good evidence and well-targeted outcomes.
The PACTS technical working parties are an important part of PACTS; members value the information and networking opportunities they provide. The rail safety working party recently met at Thales where Dr Rob Hunter outlined the risks of fatigue in transport. The road safety working parties met at Aviva Investors where they discussed large vehicles and vulnerable road user safety with presentations by ReVUE and the Freight Transport Association (FTA). The air safety working party meets at Westminster this month to discuss helicopter safety.
New Road User Environment Working Party Chair
PACTS is delighted to announce the appointment of international road safety expert Heather Ward as Chair of the Road User Environment Working Party. Heather has worked in the field of applied road safety at UCL for over 30 years, contributing to national and local policy on vulnerable road user safety and speed management strategy. She takes over from Chris Lines.
European Safety News
European Transport Safety Council released their Road safety priorities for the EU in 2014: Memorandum to the Greek Presidency of the Council of the European Union earlier this month. ETSC state that in order to reach the 2020 EU target of cutting road deaths by half (since 2010) the EU must embark upon a systematic programme of actions. These include automated in-vehicle emergency calling (e-call), safer lorry design, infrastructure safety, in-vehicle safety technologies and the integration of safety into urban mobility. The document highlights the money-saving aspect of transport safety policy, working under the title of ‘saving lives, saves money’.
The ETSC also released a briefing on the Weights and Dimensions of Heavy Goods Vehicles strongly supporting the need to improve the front-end design of HGVs in order to reduce the risk posed both to car occupants and vulnerable road users. The briefing argues that testing procedures with strict conditions relating to road safety would need to be carefully designed and does not recommend longer, heavier vehicles be allowed to operate within EU borders.
Other Transport Safety News
The Road Safety Observatory has six new reviews now available online here. These include Driver Training, Older Drivers, Rural Roads, Electric Vehicles, Speed limits and Vehicle Lighting; the final version of the Eyesight and Driving review is also available.
A worrying report from Atkins (POPE report) into the effectiveness of the official models for forecasting changes in accidents and traffic following the construction of major road schemes, has found that the models often produce inaccurate results, particularly for major bypasses. The Highways Agency (HA) 2013 Main Report on Project Evaluation on Major schemes: Meta-Analysis states that accident forecasting in terms of major projects has remained poor even after 5 years, with less than half of the major transport development schemes achieving accident savings within 50% of the predicted numbers.
PACTS, 7th February 2014