Sensible Solutions For Our Roads

The following contains details of a report from road safety experts, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), who have expressed disappointment at the rise in numbers of killed and seriously injured on UK roads, as revealed recently by the Department of Transport.

From time to time DriveWrite burbles on about driving standards. Speed cameras have their place but are not the be all and end all when it comes to safety on our highways. The IAM seems to agree as the charity blames many years of Government cutbacks and (crucially) the resulting drop in visible policing for the increase in the figures.

Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, said: “It is disappointing that after many years of solid falls in the numbers of people killed and injured on our roads, the Government has taken its eye off the ball. These figures reflect our view that cuts in visible policing and road safety spending has had an impact, with a third successive quarter of increases. We have had pretty much two decades of falls in the KSI (killed/seriously injured) figures, and while these new figures can in no way be regarded as a trend, they are a big concern.”

Mr Greig added that the Government has been ‘riding its luck’ to an extent, and that the recession has played its part in artificially making the figures seem better than they really are.

He said: “Recent transport ministers have been lucky. The recession had slowed traffic growth, new car technology has delivered safer roads year on year and most accident black spots have now been engineered out of existence.”

There were 1,711 deaths, a 1% increase, and 24,360 killed or seriously injured (KSI) casualties in the year ending September 2014, a 4% increase compared with the previous year. Child KSI casualties rose by 3% over this period. For the year ending September 2014, there were 192,910 reported road casualties of all severities, 5% higher than the 184,087 for the year ending September 2013.

Greig further added that this is the perfect opportunity to stress that a change in driver attitude must happen before we see any major falls in numbers killed and injured on our roads. He said: “This is an opportunity for us to prove the key underlying part that driver skills and behaviour play in road safety. Most crashes are caused by human error, and technology can only deliver so much. If we don’t change policy we will still be killing 1,000 people a year in 2030 – that is unacceptable. Driver behaviour, skills and training will be the key focus for our future research and policy work.”

I couldn’t put it better myself. I do a lot of driving and I see sub-standard skills every day, from the sloppy to the downright dangerous. I don’t know if it is because motorists are aware that cars have never been safer and have in some way become lax; making the assumption that the car will somehow sort it out. It won’t.

As previously mentioned speed cameras have their place. The manner in which they are sometimes used though has to be questioned despite all the pious verbiage spouted to the contrary. Speed kills certainly, but so does stupidity, ignorance and general brainlessness. Road safety should come as a whole package and that includes better pre-driving education, tougher driver training and more cops on the ground. Every time the Department for Transport changes its minister – which is often – we seem to have a different policy. One minute the government are talking up 80mph limits on the motorways, the next they are allowing ‘stealth’ cameras to be installed. It’s about time for some joined-up, long-term, reasonable solutions for our roads.
Geoff Maxted