With the Autumn Statement, in which the chancellor announced new spending on transport and other infrastructure, falling in the middle of Road Safety Week, the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) wrote beforehand to Philip Hammond to urge him, as a former transport secretary, to ensure that there is adequate money for road safety.
PACTS has specifically called for:
- Adequate staffing and resource spending in the Department for Transport (DfT) to deliver the actions in the British Road Safety Statement;
- Adequate resource staffing and spending to enable Highway England deliver its National Incident and Casualty Reduction Plan;
- A ring-fenced budget for road safety in RIS2;
- A new ring-fenced allocation for local safety schemes for local highway authorities – along the lines of the £250m Pothole Action Fund.
Over the past five years the number of road deaths on Great Britain has been gradually rising. The most recent figures from DfT (year to June 2016) show 1,800 deaths – higher than the level in June 2011.
The economic value of preventing this level of death and injury remains extremely high – some £30bn a year when unreported casualties are included. Although the UK performs ‘well’ by international road safety comparisons, the level of casualties is still far too high by any economic or public health criteria.
PACTS welcomed publication last year of the DfT’s road safety plan Working together to build a safer road system - British Road Safety Statement and the broad list of action areas that it covers. It is vital that the Department resources the plan adequately. Road safety budgets have been cut substantially since 2010 and yet the number of road deaths has reduced very little.
Road safety is a multi-disciplinary business involving engineers, psychologists, lawyers and other skills. It also requires cross-departmental support and coordination. Capital investment is important but so too is resource spend.
Without a sufficiently large and stable core of expert and experienced staff, at central and local government levels, it may not be possible to achieve the Government’s manifesto commitment to reduce the number of road users killed and injured every year.
David Davies is executive director of PACTS.
This is the third of a series of articles to mark Road Safety Week.