Memorandum by the Parliamentary Advisory
Council for Transport Safety (IT 140)
INTEGRATED TRANSPORT POLICY
1. The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport
Safety (PACTS) welcomes the decision by the Environment, Transport
and Regional Affairs Committee to conduct an inquiry into the
proposals on integrated transport contained in the recent Government
White Paper, "A New Deal for Transport". This short
memorandum is an attempt to offer comment on the safety implications
of integrated transport. PACTS would be happy to provide further
information if requested.
2. PACTS is a registered all-party Parliamentary
group and a registered charity. It seeks to identify research
based solutions to transport safety problems and to act as a link
between transport safety research and public policy. Its members
include the public and private sector, voluntary and professional
groups and university researchers.
3. Last November, during the consultation period
on integrated transport conducted by the Government, PACTS hosted
a seminar on safety and integrated transport. This was attended
by some 30 professionals from a range of backgrounds. Its conclusions
were debated with Baroness Hayman, then Minister for Roads, and
formed part of the background documentation to the White Paper.
4. In 1997, 3,599 people were killed on the
roads in Great Britain. In all, 327,544 people were killed or
injured during the course of the year. In terms of lost output,
emergency services time and cost to society, road casualties amount
to £10 billion per year. Although the number of killed and
seriously injured is much lower than it was 10 years ago, road
casualties remain a major human and financial drain on society.
5. Any integrated transport policy must have
at its core the need to reduce road deaths and injuries. In crude
terms, any attempts to reduce car usage and encourage more benign
modes such as bus or train should lead to a reduction in road
casualties. However, encouragement of more vulnerable modes such
as cycling and walking, without any additional safety interventions,
may well result in casualty trends rising rather than falling.
6. As an organisation focused on safety, PACTS
does not have a brief to encourage one mode of transport at the
expense of another. Rather, it accepts that all road users have
the right to look for an environment that is as safe as reasonably
practicable. In addition, all road users have the responsibility
to act sensibly and to take appropriate precautions while exercising
their preferred mode of transport. The success of road safety
depends upon a partnership between road users.
7. In its encouragement of a sustainable and
integrated approach to transport, the Government will need to
undertake two key pieces of research. The first will be into the
real level of risks experienced by people making similar journeys
by different modes. While it is true that bus and coach are safer
modes for passengers than cars, the walk to the bus-stop and the
wait for the bus expose pedestrians to higher levels of risk.
It is important to research into the risk level of the whole journey
rather than that of the specific mode.
8. The second research project should be undertaken
into the effects of encouraging modal shift among the driving
population. It is not unreasonable to hypothesise that those most
likely to accept Government exhortation to switch to walking and
cycling will be more conformist, socially responsible citizens.
If the result of modal shift is fewer cars driven faster by drivers
who are more likely to be involved in crashes because of their
risk-taking behaviours, road casualties may rise rather than fall.
That kind of unexpected and wholly counter-productive outcome
of modal shift should not be encouraged.
9. Paragraph 3.259 of the White Paper announces
a review of the arrangements for transport safety. PACTS welcomes
this announcement, particularly as it offers an opportunity for
a full and balanced discussion of the benefits of a single independent
authority with responsibility for the regulation of safety across
the modes. What will be important in this discussion will be a
close analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the current
bodies involved in safety regulation and accident investigation.
10. PACTS believes that the Air Accident Investigation
Branch (AAIB) offers a relevant model here. The AAIB is wholly
independent of government, retaining the right to make public
recommendations and to comment on progress (or otherwise) towards
implementation. Any new body will need to have the confidence
of the travelling public and will need to act without fear or
favour and without let or hindrance by other bodies whether public
or private. The recent comments by the Health and Safety Executive
about the failure to include the removal of Mark 1 rolling stock
as a condition of franchise letting during privatisation suggest
that other government agencies do not experience such freedom
of action. Those involved in safety regulation must be independent
of both commercial and political pressure.
11. The publication of "A New Deal for
Transport" offers an opportunity to rethink and to redirect
policy on transport. However, the majority of decisions about
transport will be taken by individual citizens making specific
decisions about particular routes and preferred modes. Some of
these decisions will be influenced by fiscal measures such as
car park charges or petrol prices. Some will be shaped by congestion
and length of journey. Others will be made on the basis of actual
or perceived safety of specific modes.
12. In the encouragement of other more sustainable
modes than the car, Government needs to understand what prevents
or discourages cycling and walking. Funds will need to be made
available to make cycling and walking safer. This might be undertaken
via "Challenge Fund" style moneys available to local
authorities for innovative schemes to encourage vulnerable modes
while preventing potential rises in casualties.