Integrating separate services and funding pots under a single road safety strategy has been key to Walsall Council’s success in roughly halving road casualties in the last five years, according to the council’s traffic safety chief.
The council recently released a report demonstrating that the overall figure for road casualties – including slight casualties - has fallen from 1336 in 2000, to 1038 in 2008, and 530 in 2013.
In 2008 there were 8 fatalities and 97 serious casualties, falling to three fatalities and 64 serious casualties in 2013.
The report states: ‘The total number of casualties across all severity groups has consistently reduced year on year since 2008 and is currently at its lowest level since records began.'
Team leader for transport safety and operation, John Charles, told Transport Network that the council has developed an integrated approach to road safety, bringing together three main prongs of service delivery - road safety education, road engineering and sustainable travel.
Pots of funding that are allocated to statutory duties, particularly public health and sustainable school transport funding, have all contributed to producing an overall road safety investment pot, Mr Charles said.
‘About four years ago we started looking at what funding was available from our public health team – which at that point was somewhat removed from the council – and we developed a service-level agreement. At the start, this integrated public health work on childhood obesity with sustainable travel and in addressing that we formed the A Stars (Active Sustainable Travel And Road Safety) project.
‘This evolved into the main delivery vehicle for road safety campaigns with schools, providing information and education services. The public health service-level agreement we have in place also helps contribute to the wages for a road safety officer and a sustainable travel officer at the council’ Mr Charles said.
Along with other grant funding from statutory services Walsall has used this pooled cash to invest in route-based road safety solutions.
This pooled funding underpinned the formation of a road safety investment matrix that uses route-based collision statistics as a foundation - rather than more traditional cluster analysis - for deciding when a road safety engineering solution should be employed, Mr Charles revealed.
The council is now working towards updating its road safety plan to support the delivery of road safety work throughout the borough, exploring ways to integrate the service even more.
A range of road safety projects have also formed part of Walsall’s work, such as 20mph speed reductions and watchman speed signs, which utilise automatic number plate recognition technology signs to remind drivers of the speed limit and display a slow down message along with the number plate.