Improving road safety for pedestrians and cyclists in Great Britain - Public Accounts Committee Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

1  Child pedestrians from the most deprived areas remain four times more likely to be killed or injured on the roads than those from the least deprived areas. The Department should give priority to promoting targeted road safety schemes in deprived areas that suffer most from child pedestrian casualties.

2  Speed is an overwhelming factor in the incidence and severity of injuries to pedestrians and cyclists, whose chances of survival diminish rapidly at speeds over 20 miles per hour. The Department should promote measures to reduce speed, including the use of speed cameras, 20 miles per hour zones and road humps, to encourage local highway authorities to adopt them and to influence the attitudes of all road users.

3  Despite its leading role in the promotion of road safety the Department does not always know about successful schemes undertaken by local areas, such as the Lothian Borders, and does not engage sufficiently with practitioners. The Department should actively seek examples of successful road safety schemes run by local highway authorities and issue guidance on how these can be used more widely in ways that practitioners find easy to accommodate.

4  It is surprising that the Department was unaware of a strongly held perception that, through the irresponsible behaviour of some cyclists, they are a hazard to themselves and other road users. The Department should devise education, training and publicity measures to target such anti-social behaviour, particularly when it breaks traffic laws.

5  There is substantial evidence that fewer people would be killed and seriously injured on Great Britain's roads if this country were to put the clocks forward by one hour throughout the year. The Department should take the lead in re-examining the practice of changing clocks at the end of British Summer Time with other central Government departments.

6  The Department recognises that the police data used to measure its road safety performance consistently understate the numbers of road casualties each year and it is attempting to clarify this by matching these data with those collected by the National Health Service. When it has completed this work, planned for Summer 2009, it should devise a formula for adjusting the police data in reporting progress against its targets each year.

7  Road safety is not the first priority for some organisations with which the Department works, for example other central Government departments, but they can be influential. The Department should develop an explicit strategy to promote its road safety priorities more effectively among those who can influence the success of road safety measures.

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Prepared 22 October 2009