New Road Safety Strategy

Transport written statement – made at on 21 April 2009.

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Photo of Jim Fitzpatrick Jim Fitzpatrick Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Transport)

The Department has today published a consultation paper on a new road safety strategy for Great Britain. The consultation document, "A Safer Way", proposes a new approach to road safety, ambitious new casualty reduction targets and a number of new measures to assist in achieving those targets. It also proposes a long-term vision to make Britain's roads the safest in the world.

The paper puts forward four national targets for achievement by 2020, as compared with the 2004-08 average. The headline target is to reduce road deaths by one-third. We propose further targets to reduce serious injuries on our roads, also by one-third, and to halve the combined total of death and serious injuries to children on our roads. Lastly, given our aims to increase levels of walking and cycling and to improve safety, we suggest a target to halve the rate of road death and serious injury to pedestrians and cyclists per kilometre travelled.

Our current strategy has improved road safety significantly, reducing the number of deaths and serious injuries by 36 per cent. over the last decade, but eight deaths a day is still intolerable and we want to make our roads safer still. By improving our roads, our vehicles and our behaviour on the roads, we aim to develop a road safety system in which mistakes on the road do not lead to death or serious injury. We propose to do this through smarter working with local partners, not through creating large numbers of new offences and regulation. We need to target action on those roads, people and behaviours most associated with death and serious injury on our roads.

To improve safety on rural roads, where 60 per cent. of all British road deaths happen, we propose annually to publish maps highlighting the main roads with the poorest safety records, encouraging local agencies to rapidly improve safety standards. We also propose to recommend to highway authorities that lower limits are adopted on single carriageways currently subject to 60 mph limit, where risks are relatively high and there is evidence that a lower limit would significantly reduce casualties. To improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists, we propose to give guidance to local highway authorities recommending that, over time, they introduce 20 mph limits into all streets which are primarily residential in nature.

Improved vehicle safety will continue to be crucial in reducing road casualties. We aim to support improvements through regulation, where appropriate, but also through consumer information and raising awareness, working in partnership with industry. We expect further improvements in vehicles' crash protection to be targeted around particular problems or collision types. We believe that advanced vehicle safety systems, helping drivers and riders to avoid crashes, have the potential to deliver increasing improvements in safety.

Our recent consultation on road safety compliance put forward measures to crack down on irresponsible behaviour and we will set out our conclusions in the final version of the new road safety strategy. Our proposals in the compliance consultation included tougher penalties for extreme speeding, and tackling drug and drink-driving.

We propose to support responsible road use by improving driver training and testing, through the highly successful THINK! campaign and through development of a seamless suite of educational materials from pre-school to pre-driver, the first phase of which will be published later this week. Significant new effort will also go into improving driving skills and standards.

Despite improvement in 2007, the number of collisions involving 18-24 year olds and newly qualified drivers remains unacceptably high. Tackling this issue remains a priority within our proposed new strategy, and we are also today announcing a programme of measures that will strengthen the way that people learn to drive and are tested, and create a culture of continued and lifelong learning.

The Driving Standards Agency's "Learning to Drive" consultation paper prompted almost 7,000 responses. The responses, many of which were from young people, confirm general support for our view that education and incentive through improved training and testing is the best way to improve the safety of newly qualified drivers. As well as recognising that the great majority of people want to be law abiding and safe, such an approach also acknowledges that people learn to drive for many reasons, including to access education and employment.

Newly qualified drivers have told us that the current regime does not properly prepare them for driving unsupervised. The programme of measures will ensure that they are better equipped to drive safely and responsibly in modern driving conditions. They will also introduce a more efficient and effective learning process, and give employers and insurers greater confidence in the driving abilities of newly qualified drivers and those who have invested in further training.

The changes will be delivered through a phased implementation programme, which supports progressive improvements while avoiding disruption to those currently learning to drive. The first phase aims to deliver, over the next two years, an improved learning process, improved theory and practical driving tests, and further options for learning and qualifications.

Full details are set out in "Learning to Drive: Report on Consultation", copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House. The consultation on the new road safety strategy closes on 14 July 2009. Copies of the consultation document have been placed in the Libraries of the House and are also available in the Vote Office and Printed Paper Office.

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john goodfellow
Posted on 22 Apr 2009 3:15 pm (Report this annotation)

"........Newly qualified drivers have told us that the current regime does not properly prepare them for driving unsupervised. The programme of measures will ensure that they are better equipped to drive safely and responsibly in modern driving conditions..............""

A blanket statement that is inherently untrue.

If young drivers were asked a proper question and the answers analysed correctly we might get to the truth.

The questions should have identified two groups. Those who felt they were prepared to drive on their own and then those who weren't.

The differences should have been gone into in detail and a proper solution extracted because a very large number of new drivers are perfectly OK on their own.

This is punishment of the majority because of the minority and is a lazy unsophisticated attempt at a solution