Are road safety targets worth aiming for?
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Yes – Nick Lloyd, Acting head of road safety, ROSPA
In 2017, 1,544 people were killed on England’s roads – the most since 2011 – and the number of KSIs stood at 23,825, way above the 2010-2014 average: 21,283. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) believes that this is a cause for concern, and one that needs urgent attention. Yet in other parts of the UK, a different picture is emerging: in Scotland the figures are falling, and while the numbers in Wales have hovered around the same level since 2014, they are half of what they were in 2004. Clearly, there are lessons to be learnt from approaches to road safety which are being overseen by devolved governments. It is RoSPA’s view that setting targets for road safety would focus minds and marshal resources towards moving to a future free from road accidents. Setting challenging targets is an excellent way of improving road safety, and RoSPA has called on England to do the same as part of a response to a recent Westminster Transport Committee inquiry on road safety. We’d also like to see a number of other interventions considered, including a reduction in the drink-drive limit in Wales and England, to match the current law in Scotland. Enabling active travel through improving safety for vulnerable road users is also key.
No – Jessie Norman MP, Minister for Road Safety, (now paymaster general)
The issue of targets is constantly raised with the Government, as it was in the recent debate in the House of Commons on the 5th November.
I repeat that some countries with great safety records have targets, and some do not. There is no necessary correlation, and it would not be right to hide behind targets when there are so many specific measures that we can potentially take. Rather than targets, the focus should be on specific measures that could be implemented to reduce the number of casualties, such as protecting older and vulnerable road users.
The Department has no current plans to reintroduce national road safety targets. There is no robust academic evidence to indicate that the setting of any targets in the UK would contribute to progress in road casualty reduction. In fact, there has been a stalling of progress in road casualty reductions across many economically advanced countries, including in countries with targets (e.g. Sweden and the Netherlands).
The 2015 Road Safety statement sets out the Department for Transport’s overall principles and priorities in relation to British road safety.
Local authorities, the police and other bodies are free to set their own road safety targets if they wish.