Casualty reduction targets “single most important policy decision” (roadsafetygb.org.uk)
If the UK wants to be taken seriously as a leader in road safety, it must stop resting on its laurels, taking credit for casualty reductions that happened in previous decades and recognise its recent poor performance.
That’s the damning verdict of David Davies, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS).
Writing for Local Transport Today, Mr Davies expresses particular criticism of the Government’s reluctance to adopt national targets to reduce road deaths – something he says is the “single most important policy decision that the UK Government could take”.
For almost three decades (1983-2010), the UK Government set ambitious casualty reduction targets. According to Mr Davies, the targets were seen as “fundamental” to the substantial reductions in death and injury that followed.
However in 2010, policy changed and targets were abandoned.
Since then, evidence points towards Britain being in a period when the number of road fatalities is ‘broadly stable’ but not falling – in the words of the Government.
Mr Davies accuses Westminster governments of the last decade of having “ducked the issue”, paying no heed to the EU target to halve road deaths by 2020, which they endorsed in 2011.
This time last year, the Government spoke at the World Health Organisation’s Road Safety 2020 conference in Stockholm, supporting the global target of “50 by 30” in the UN road safety declaration (a 50% reduction in road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030).
At home, it set a new casualty reduction target for Highways England. Meanwhile, the governments and administrations in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London have adopted targets for their areas.
Mr Davies says “the missing but vital piece of the jigsaw” is a target for the UK.
He notes that simple but ambitious road casualty targets, “preferably in line with the global targets that the Government supports”, should be the cornerstone of strategy going forwards.
Mr Davies concludes that while targets alone do not guarantee outcomes – they need to be backed by commitment, plans and resources – without them “we face another decade in which some 1,800 people will die and 30,000 will be seriously injured each year on our roads”.