Memorandum by the Institute for Public
Policy Research (RTS 51)
ROAD TRAFFIC SPEED
The Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr)
in collaboration with the Centre for Transport Studies at Imperial
College is currently engaged in a project looking at the links
between child pedestrian accidents and social inequality. The
project aims to set the Government's road safety strategy in the
wider context of government objectives to improve public health
and reduce health inequalities. A brief description of the project
parts can be found at the end of this document.
This submission is being made at the point where
only preliminary results are available. Full results, conclusions
and recommendations will be published in the spring of 2002.
This submission addresses themes the Committee
wish to consider specifically from the viewpoint of reducing child
pedestrian accidents and inequality and improving the liveability
Britain's child pedestrian fatality rate is
almost twice that of Germany. More than 3,000 children were killed
or seriously injured (ksi) as pedestrians in 2000. The DTLR's
own estimate is that speed is a factor in up to one third of all
accidents, which means that speed was a police recorded factor
in over 1,000 of the child pedestrians ksi in 2000.
Road accidents are the biggest single cause
of accidental death amongst children and young people and accidents
are the leading cause of death in this age group. Each year around
a fifth of all deaths of those aged five to 19 are due to road
accidents, this amounts to around two thirds of accidental deaths
for this age group.
Mapping of all road accidents recorded by the
police in an area such as London, shown on page 2, vividly illustrates
how many accidents occur and the quality of the mapping data,
although there is evidence of a high level of underreporting of
accidents to the police.
If inappropriate speed is responsible for one
third of all accidents then this still leaves a lot of dots, each
representing an accident, on this map. The quality of life in
urban areas, particularly for pedestrians, is clearly going to
be reduced when the road is such a dangerous place to be. Children
from more deprived backgrounds are going to experience the biggest
impact on their quality of life as they are the most likely to
be trying to cross, play and live near these roads and least likely
to be in cars.
Most local authority transport plans indicate
that authorities look at recorded accident data and use it to
assist their transport planning process. They tend to target measures
to reduce accidents in areas where the recorded accident rate
appears to be relatively high, that is they treat accident "hot-spots".
A lot of authorities also appear to prioritise locations where
child pedestrian accidents are thought to be a particular concern.
The measures might be introduced in these cases as a response
to local residents concerns or as part of schemes to make routes
to school safer.
The fact that the overall number of fatalities
in any particular ward will thankfully tend to be very small means
that many authorities now feel that many of the easy gains in
accident reduction, by treating "hot-spots", have been
had. That is, analysis of local data alone does not easily show
where measures to reduce accidents might most effectively be located
and the most articulate local demand for measures might not result
in measures being placed where they might have most effect.
The research being carried out by ippr appears
to show that the child pedestrian accident rates in particular
are higher in more deprived areas (see graph on next page). The
graph shows that children in the 10 per cent most deprived wards
in England using the child poverty index have an accident rate
around four times that of the 10 per cent most affluent. Children
are also a higher proportion of the population in more deprived
wards, compounding the problem. The residents of such areas are
more likely to be socially excluded and the least likely to be
able to make demands for measures to improve the liveability of
their area, such as accident reduction measures. While this idea
of area-based inequality in child pedestrian accidents has been
investigated in the past at a local level (and on a social class
base with mortality statistics), it has not been analysed at a
national scale before. The results of this work might assist local
transport planners in their quest to place measures to reduce
accidents in the most effective places. That is, by targeting
measures at more deprived areas they might gain the largest reductions
in child pedestrian accidents and better rates of return on investment
on such measures, over the long term.
Research by the Transport Research Laboratory
indicates that 20 mph zones are very effective at reducing road
accidents (by 60 per cent on average) and child pedestrian and
cyclist accidents in particular (by 70 per cent on average). Kingston
upon Hull, for example, has achieved impressive results by introducing
85 such zones. The work being done by ippr will map 20 mph zones
and show whether the effective measures are being placed where
they are most lively to have the greatest effect.
Traffic calmed 20 mph zones are very effective
at reducing child pedestrian accidents and the rates of such accidents
are highest in the most deprived areas. This implies that a policy
of traffic calming such areas would be beneficial in terms of
casualty reduction and the economic savings which society benefits
from by preventing accidents. As further results become available
the ippr work should be able to shed light on which factors influence
this socio-economic gradient and what other measures might be
appropriate to aid the reduction of pedestrian casualties and
Speeding vehicles decrease the liveability of
areas and if the government's intended urban renaissance is to
occur it seems clear that measures to reduce speed need to be
considered as part of area wide programmes to improve the quality
of life of residents of such areas. However, even though speed
reduction reduces casualties it is not presently perceived as
popular with the public. Policies to reduce speed need to be implemented
in ways which enhance the quality of life people in such a way
that the perceived disbenefit of reduced speed is outweighed by
the improved living environment for all. Government has a responsibility
to communicate its desire to improve Britain's quality of life
by making pedestrian activity safer and more enjoyable. This question
of attitudes to the car and lifestyle is being looked at in a
major ippr project in 2002.
1. Spatial analysis of child pedestrian accidents
Since the beginning of 1999 the STATS19 form
completed by the Police for all road accidents has included the
postcode of accident victims. The information from these forms
is compiled on a database held at the DTLR. New area indices of
deprivation at ward level have also been compiled on another DTLR
held database, these include an overall index and child poverty
index. For the first time ippr and Imperial are mapping and correlating
child pedestrian accident victims by accident location and residence
with the local area indices for the whole country, using Geographical
Information Systems (GIS). This provides a national picture of
how accident risk varies with levels of deprivation. Office of
National Statistics mortality data is also being used to examine
trends in accident inequality over time.
2. Spatial analysis of 20 mph zones in England
Data on the location of 20 mph zones does not
exist in a format which would allow mapping to be performed. ippr
are doing a survey of highway authorities in England and Wales
to determine the location of existing and planned 20 mph zones.
The zones will then be mapped with the accident and poverty data
to see if there is any correlation or correspondence to the results
of the spatial analysis described above.
3. Review of local road safety strategies
As part of their statutory five-year local transport
plans, all local highway authorities must set targets to reduce
road casualties and develop strategies to meet them. This review
is looking at the targets the authorities are choosing, why they
are choosing them and in partnership with whom. The review is
also looking at what measures are being used and how they are
targeted. A literature review of the most cost-effective measures
to reduce child pedestrian accidents will also be undertaken.
Results, conclusion and recommendations will
be published in spring 2002, look out for details on this and
other ippr projects see the website, www.ippr.org.