The UK has some of the safest roads in the world, but every road death is an unnecessary tragedy. That is why the last Government set out an ambitious range of further measures to enhance the safety of UK road users in its 2015 Road Safety Statement.
Today I am publishing a progress report on the delivery of the planned actions from that Statement. We have made some good headway: 15 of the 23 short term actions have been delivered including three where our original objectives have been exceeded. Penalties for using mobile phones when driving have been significantly increased, we have exceeded our commitments to funding police forces in England and Wales to build drug-driving enforcement capability, and most recently new legislation came into force on 4 June allowing learners to drive on motorways when accompanied by an instructor in a dual control car. I am placing a copy of the progress report in the Libraries of both Houses.
This is good progress. But it is only part of a wider picture.
First, I am pleased today to announce the successful bids for the Safer Roads Fund, which we made available to enable Local Authorities to improve the 50 most dangerous stretches of ‘A’ roads in England. We are investing £100m to tackle these dangerous roads. This sum fully funds all bids from the Local Authorities concerned. The additional £75m initially allocated for the work has not been required, but we will continue to look closely at further scope for capital improvements to improve road safety.
I am placing a copy of the list of successful Local Authorities and the sections of roads to be improved in the Libraries of both Houses and all Local Authorities have been notified directly today. A report on the lessons learned from the bidding process is also being published today, to aid knowledge sharing and capacity building amongst Local Authorities. . I have made this report available in the Libraries of both Houses as well.
Secondly, last week the Prime Minister also announced two important and path-breaking road safety projects: a £350,000 innovation competition to provide police forces with the next generation of mobile breathalyser equipment, enabling swifter and more timely read-outs on drink-driving tests; and a£480,000 partnership between police forces and the RAC Foundation to trial an innovative approach to road collision investigation, carrying out more in-depth, qualitative analysis of the underlying causes of road safety incidents.
This package of measures underlines the Government’s recognition of the importance of road safety. But, thirdly, we intend to go further still, and I have asked the Department to develop a refreshed Road Safety Statement and a two year action plan to address four priority user groups - Young people, Rural road users, Motorcyclists and Older vulnerable users. The first three of these groups are continually overrepresented in our road casualty statistics, while we have data to confirm that the safety of older road users is a growing concern. Our goal is for everyone to continue to enjoy the mobility that driving offers, but to do so safely. The development of this refreshed Road Safety Statement will also take account of the early lessons from the new road collision investigation pilots.
It is important to say that the Department cannot and does not seek to achieve all these actions in isolation. We remain grateful for the constructive and expert support of key partners, including motoring groups such as the AA, RAC and the RAC Foundation; road safety campaigners including PACTS, Road Safety Foundation, Brake, Road Safety Trust, and RoSPA; local authorities and the Police, as well as colleagues in other Government Departments and Devolved Administrations. Officials will work with these organisations, and with colleagues at DVSA, DVLA and Highways England to deliver this new package of road safety measures.