Further memorandum from Department for
Transport (RS 01A)
The Department welcomes the Committee's continuing
interest in road safety, since this remains a vital matter of
public interest and concern. This inquiry is particularly timely.
The current strategy, Tomorrow's Roads: Safer for Everyone,
covers the period 2000 to 2010 and the Department has begun working
with a wide range of stakeholders to develop a successor strategy.
This memorandum follows the structure of the
Committee's seven questions.
1. To what extent have targets for casualty
reduction been a useful tool for focusing professional activity?
1.1 The current road safety strategy, Tomorrow's
Roads: Safer for Everyone set three casualty reduction targets
for 2010 against a baseline of the average for 1994-98:
a 40% reduction in the number of
people killed or seriously injured ("KSI") in road accidents;
a 50% reduction in the number of
children KSI; and
a 10% reduction in the slight casualty
rate, expressed as the number of people slightly injured per 100
million vehicle km.
1.2 The Department believes that the road
casualty reduction targets for the period to 2010 have been effective.
The 2006 data shows:
a 33% reduction in the number of
KSIs in road accidents;
a 52% reduction in the number of
child KSIs; and
a 28% reduction in the slight casualty
rate per 100 million vehicle km.
1.3 Although the existence of the targets
has not been the only factor in driving this improvement in performance,
we believe that they have provided a clear and consistent framework
within which progress has been delivered. The strengths of the
current road safety targets are that they: (a) simply express
the outcome which the Department and its partners wish to seea
reduction in death and injury; (b) can be applied at local as
well as at national level, galvanising effort on the ground as
well as by policy makers; (c) are firmly grounded in research
evidence refined by extensive consultation with stakeholders;
and (d) benefit from a longstanding and consistent source of base
performance data (the "STATS 19" returns). This view
of the targets appears to be endorsed by stakeholders, including
in the recent PACTS report.
1.4 The financial incentives which reward
road casualty reduction under the Local Transport Plan regime
have helped ensure that national aspirations are delivered locally.
Local authorities will continue to report on road casualties under
Local Area Agreements, whose delivery will be central to Audit
Commission assessments and associated with financial incentives.
The Department also works directly with struggling local authorities
to reduce casualties and has now set up a Road Safety Delivery
Board, made up of those agencies with key responsibilities for
road safety, to spread good practice and overcome obstacles.
1.5 In addition, two areas of particular
focus have seen their targets achieved. The first was that for
reducing deaths and serious injuries amongst children to a greater
degree than the target for the wider population50% rather
than 40%. This reflected the concern at the time of publication
of Tomorrow's Roads that child casualties were high in
Britain when compared to international peers. The fact that this
target has already been achieved is further evidence, in the Department's
view, that there is "buy-in" to the targets contained
in Tomorrow's Roads. Secondly, a target was added in 2002
to secure by 2005 a greater percentage reduction in road casualties
in the 88 most deprived English districts than for England as
a whole. This was achieved in 2005.
1.6 These targets appear to have been effective
for the 2000-10 period. However, whilst the numbers of KSIs have
been reduced in line with the targets, a breakdown of the numbers
shows that a disproportionate part of that reduction has been
in serious injuries rather than deaths. This is, of course, a
matter of great concern to the Department. We consider this issue
further in relation to the Committee's last two questions on our
1.7 The post-2010 strategy will also need
to take account of a very different context to that of 2000. We
will be taking a fresh look at the structure and focus of targets
to make sure that they reflect the new national priorities and
are likely to be effective in driving high quality performance.
2. What further measures need to be adopted
to reduce deaths and injuries arising from drinking and driving?
2.1 Alcohol abuse in Great Britain is a
recurring factor in anti-social and criminal behaviour of various
types. And young adults who drink to excess feature disproportionately
in crime and disorder.
The Department recognises the need to work effectively across
Whitehall to combat these wider societal problems.
2.2 The number of deaths and serious injuries
in road accidents involving illegal alcohol levels fell 30% from
1996 to 2006.
While this fall is very welcome, it still leaves 540 deaths and
1,960 serious injuries resulting from such accidentsan
2.3 We made clear in the second review of
the current road safety strategy that tackling drink-driving is
a high priority and that our first objective is improved enforcement.
This reflects the evidence that most drink drivers involved in
fatal accidents have alcohol levels which are well above the legal
limit, so enforcement measures might be expected to have a greater
impact than a change in the alcohol limit.
2.4 We were therefore encouraged by the
police's Christmas 2007 crackdown on drink driving, which saw
a 6.4% increase in the number of breath tests.
Given the high level of breath test failuresstill over
100,000 a yearit is similarly encouraging that drink-drive
enforcement is part of the new police performance framework upon
which the Home Office is currently consulting.
2.5 The Department will monitor the impact
of this enhanced enforcement in terms of deaths and injuries in
accidents involving excess alcohol. We will also consult on means
of supporting the police in their enforcement role and will continue
to work with them in co-ordinating our Think! drink-drive publicity
campaigns, on which we currently spend some £3.25 million
per annum, with their enforcement effort.
3. How does Great Britain compare with other
EU countries in its approach to reducing deaths and injuries?
3.1 A comparison of road deaths rates per
100,000 population shows that the UK continues to perform well
by both EU and wider international standards (see graph below).
The approach taken in our 2000 strategy, combining engineering,
enforcement and education has been widely regarded as a success
story and many of our approaches replicated across Europe. However,
there have been notable improvements in performance of some of
our EU peers, even those who like the UK are already strong performers.
3.2 As part of our review process, we will
be considering how high performing countries have succeeded in
achieving continuing improvementfor example in Sweden and
3.3 Sweden's Vision Zero starts from
an ethical perspectivethat nobody should die or be seriously
injured for life in road traffic. In practice, there is an acceptance
that the inherent risks of the road mean that accidents will occur,
but Vision Zero seeks to ensure, as far as possible, that such
accidents do not lead to deaths or crippling injuries. Vision
Zero does appear to have changed the practices, policies and standards
of Swedish road safety professionals.
3.4 The Dutch Sustainable Safety vision
is not entirely dissimilar. It is based on the idea that human
error is inevitable and that the road and vehicle environment
therefore needs to be constructed so as to compensate.
3.5 In developing the post-2010 strategy,
the Department will consider our longer term vision or goal for
road safety in Great Britain. We will then reflect on whether
that can be translated into an approach to road safety which brings
about consistent, reinforcing action in all elements of the road
safety systemengineering, education and enforcement.
4. How do approaches in reductions in risk
on the roads compare to those adopted in other modes of transport?
4.1 Deaths on roads per distance travelled
continue to dwarf those for other modes (see graph below). The
Department recently reaffirmed its commitment
to reduce "the risk of death, injury or illness arising from
transport". In the context of both that commitment and Sir
Rod Eddington's advice to the Department
to be more "modally agnostic" in its thinking, we are
considering how we might improve safety policy-making across the
4.2 A new Departmental Transport Safety
Group, which brings together transport safety experts from each
mode, will seek to identify the key future safety challenges and
will consider issues such as:
public perceptions and attitudes
to risk for the different modes;
how risk is assessed and how that
drives policy making; and
the role of human factors in transport
4.3 Attached at Annex A is a brief summary
of the approaches to safety for the different modes.
5. Are there specific blockages caused by
shortages of appropriately trained and skilled staff?
5.1 There is growing concern about the shortage
of skilled resources amongst transport professionals. This was
one of the reasons why we have supported a national resources
study "Project Brunel" led by TfL, to investigate the
current and future state of engineering and transport planning
professional resource in the road and rail sector. Previously
conclude that there is a skills gap in areas of the transport
industry. We believe that lack of know-how is hampering casualty
reduction, at least in some areas of the country. Project Brunel
covers road safety engineering expertise and should provide more
detailed evidence than previous reports about the many different
disciplines within the industry. The study is due to be completed
later in 2008 and also aims to identify actions, which could be
taken to address identified skills shortages.
6. What further policies, not already widely
used, might be considered for adoption and what evidence there
is for their success?
7. What should be the priorities for government
in considering further targets for casualty reduction beyond 2010?
6.1 Our 2000 strategy and targets have been
highly effective mechanisms for improving safety performance at
both national and local level. Given the success we have already
achieved, making a further step change from 2010 will be a much
more challenging task. Our thinking on the post-2010 strategy
is at an early stage, but it is clear that we shall need both
to focus on reinforcing those measures from the 2000 strategy
which are proving consistently effective, and to develop new approaches
which learn from the best practice across government in effective
regulation and the achievement of behavioural change.
6.2 Our February 2007 review of the current
strategy has already highlighted some areas where performance
has been weaker, and some behaviours which are persistently causing
death and injury. In terms of our performance, perhaps the strongest
message from our performance data is that we are being less effective
in reducing deaths than in reducing KSIs overall. Deaths in 2006
were only 11% below the 1994-98 baseline.
6.3 It is already clear that a key challenge
for our new strategy will be to improve this record of performance
on the most serious crashes. This will mean identifying and tackling
those behaviours and groups of behaviours which are most likely
to lead to fatalities. We shall want particularly to focus on
deaths associated with drink-driving, which have shown an increase
since 1998; on fatalities associated with not wearing seatbelts;
on inappropriate and excessive speed; and on how we generally
encourage improved driving standards whilst dealing effectively
with those whose behaviour is unacceptable. We are also keen to
probe the extent to which dangerous driving traits and unlicensed
and uninsured driving are associated with the same individuals
or groups. In addition, moving away from issues of poor behaviour,
we will need to continue to consider how to tackle the disproportionate
rate of death and injury among motorcyclists.
6.4 We have also identified a number of
key themes which we will be addressing in the consultation and
the strategy review.
6.5 First, we want to ensure that we are
not only tackling the most dangerous behaviours, but tackling
them in a way which is likely to be effective and to secure broad
public support. Our road safety strategy will need to be part
of a balanced deal with the motorist, which not only includes
effective penalties for those who endanger others, but supports
strong road skills and responsible decision making. A key issue
for our review is how we can strengthen motorists' incentives
to drive in a safe and responsible way, building on the success
of the THINK! campaign.
6.6 Second, we need to consider how we can
move beyond programmes of discrete measures aimed at tackling
unsafe behaviours individually to develop an approach to road
safety which considers how all parts of the systemengineering,
education and enforcementcan work together to reduce casualties.
This means ensuring that there is a balanced package of measures
in place to avoid and mitigate the impact of road accidents.
6.7 Third, as set out in section 4 above,
we will be keen to learn lessons from the experience of other
modes of transport in planning for and regulating safety, including
looking at the arrangements for investigating accidents and promulgating
advice and recommendations at national level.
6.8 Finally, the Department will be keen
to put road safety into the wider policy context, looking at influencing
factors from outside the road safety world. These include the
need to reduce carbon emissions and raise levels of physical activity
and the changing national demographics, with a higher proportion
of older drivers. We shall consider both the short- to medium-term
measures and the issues on the horizon with stakeholders in developing
We intend, with the Scottish Executive and Welsh
Assembly Government, to consult extensively on a road safety strategy
for the period from 2010 and will be keen to hear the views of
the committee and other interests as part of that process.
SAFETY REGIMES APPLYING FOR DIFFERENT MODES
A1 For roads, the Secretary of State
for Transport has overall statutory responsibility for road safety,
with local highway authorities, the police and many others all
playing important roles. Safety standards for vehicles are set
at European level and European requirements also underpin, to
varying extents, a range of areas of road safety law (for instance
driver licensing and driver training and testing requirements,
seat belt wearing requirements and the drivers' hours regime for
many commercial vehicles). The Department's approach to road safety
policy and schemes is through cost-benefit analysis (CBA)a
standard means of weighing up costs and benefits. Non-financial
costs and benefits are given financial values wherever possible.
Safety benefits are based on the number of occurrences of incidents
that a measure can be expected to prevent, and the statistical
value of fatalities and injuries avoided. There is always some
uncertainty and, like all appraisal techniques, CBA informs decisions.
Decision-takers need to understand the limitations of the appraisal's
robustness and to know what additional, non-monetised, costs and
benefits should be taken into account. In light of the very large
numbers of deaths and injuries on the roads, all the authorities
involved have to prioritise their actions and concentrate on those
issues and problems where action can deliver the largest reductions
in casualties, taking account of the resources available.
A2 The Secretary of State for Transport is accountable
to Parliament for safety on the railways. She is responsible
for making rail safety legislation, acting on the advice of the
Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), which is the independent safety
regulator and enforcement body. The principle that risk should
be reduced "so far as is reasonably practicable" (known
as SFAIRP) is central to the Health and Safety at Work etc Act
1974, and is the basis for rail safety regulation. In Great Britain,
rail operators, infrastructure managers and renewal companies
manage rail safety through the implementation of Safety Management
Systems (SMS), as required by EC Railway Safety Directive 2004/49/EC,
under which they are required to use risk assessment to establish
what the key risks are and to introduce control measures to remove
them or to ensure that they are adequately controlled.
A3 For aviation, the Civil Aviation Act
1982 places complementary duties on the Secretary of State and
the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in relation to aviation safety.
The Secretary of State is responsible for encouraging measures
for promoting safety in the use of civil aircraft; ensuring that
international obligations are fulfilled; issuing permits to foreign-registered
aircraft; and appointing inspectors to carry out air accident
investigations. Harmonised standards for aviation safety are increasingly
being set at the European level. The European Aviation Safety
Agency (EASA) was established in September 2003 and determines
the rules and standards for airworthiness and flight operations.
In due course, EASA is expected to take on responsibility for
setting the standards for aerodrome and air traffic management
safety as well. The CAA implements the European regulations as
well as the standards set by the International Civil Aviation
Organisation. The CAA adopts a risk-based approach to its enforcement
and regulatory oversight, using incident and occurrence report
data, accident analyses and its oversight of organisations to
identify the key risks.
A4 Shipping safety is overseen by the
Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), an agency of the Department.
The MCA is responsible throughout the UK for implementing the
Government's maritime safety and marine environmental protection
policy, which is underpinned by requirements of European and international
lawin particular the International Maritime Organisation's
Conventions on Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and Maritime Pollution
(MARPOL). The Secretary of State for Transport is responsible
for the framework in which the Agency operates. Maritime accidents
can result in injury to people, environmental damage, and economic
losses to ships equipment and cargo. The IMO Formal Safety Assessment
system is the international method by which regulation is considered,
and its application is broadly consistent with UK principles (including
ALARP) and UK values. The maritime safety regime deals with very
significant risks, especially where significant numbers of passengers
and large volumes of pollutants are involved. Accordingly, regulation,
inspection, and enforcement are, to a large extent, risk based.
6 Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety,
Beyond 2010-a holistic approach to road safety in Great Britain. Back
Safe.Sensible.Social. The next steps in the national alcohol
strategy, Dept of Health, June 2007. Back
Road Casualties Great Britain, The Stationery Office, 2006. Back
ACPO Press Release, 17 January 2007. Back
Home Office, Assessments of Policing and Community Safety consultation,
December 2007 http://police.homeoffice.gov.uk/performance-and-measurement/assess-policing-community-safety/apacsconsult/?version=1 Back
Towards a Sustainable Transport System, DfT, October 2007. Back
Eddington Transport Study, DfT, December 2006. Back
Engineering & Technology Board, Engineering UK, December
2006 and Institution of Civil Engineers' State of the Nation Report,
December 2007. Back