Road Safety - Transport Committee Contents

8  Technology and engineering

Technology and engineering in the Strategic Framework

49.  The Government expects developments in technology to play a clear role in improving road safety in the long term.

In the longer term, with improvements in technology, e.g. collision avoidance - which will continue to transform the way we drive and use roads and the ability of the system to protect all road users when things go wrong - allied with safer and better driving, we will see a very different world.[142]

Developing and improving technology for the future is therefore a key part of the Government's vision. However, there are no indicators in the outcomes framework to assess the progress in developing and adopting such new technologies. If the Government wishes to encourage consumer knowledge of such technology, then an indicator looking at the proportion of vehicles purchased with a 5 star EuroNCAP (European New Car Assessment Programme) rating, which rates the performance of new vehicles in crash tests, would be useful.

50.  On the other hand, engineering to improve road design is mentioned only briefly in the Government's strategy.[143] Indeed, road safety improvements in the near-term from engineering are absent from the action plan and outcomes framework, a fact which was commented on by a number of those providing evidence.[144] Several existing indicators describe the role of engineering in road safety, which may prove a useful source of information to measure progress in this area. For example, EuroRAP (European Road Assessment Programme) rates roads according to their safety. The way it does so may provide an opportunity for the Government to include a road engineering indicator in its outcomes framework. The IAM stated:

There is no doubt that EuroRAP has reached a level of detail and scientific rigour where it could be used as an indicator, certainly to allow local authorities to look at their own roads and to compare different regions. The key thing about EuroRAP is that it looks at the risk of those particular roads. It is about road design rather than road behaviour. In many cases it highlights simple things like white lining, realigning bends and lighting junctions. It is simple engineering measures.[145]

Having the right road design and engineering schemes in place is important to help reduce the number of road accidents. Engineering measures can be particularly important for vulnerable road users such as cyclists, for example in preventing accidents by redesigning junctions. We recommend that the Government includes engineering measures in its outcomes framework, for example by providing EuroRAP assessments of road safety.


51.  The Government makes reference to "collaborative research" as part of its road safety strategy.[146] In areas such as technology and engineering, Government may be needed as a catalyst to bring together the relevant parties from research and industry to help achieve policy objectives. Professor Carsten told us that "the Government need to be a player or UK plc, research establishments, vehicle manufacturers and other technology providers need to work together".[147] However, the Government gave little detail regarding the its to contribute to organising such initiatives. The strategy does outline plans to encourage the development of technologies at EU level.[148] Specific commitments include proposals to amend standards for HGV mirrors and work in the European Commission to develop standards under the Intelligent Transport Systems Directive.[149] We recommend that the Government provides an update on progress in those areas which it committed to developing at an EU level in the last road safety strategy and sets out forthcoming areas for prioritisation.

142   Strategic Framework p11  Back

143   Q 234, Q 235, Ev 111 para 23, Ev 113 para 4.3 Back

144   Q 233, Q 234 Back

145   Q 33 Back

146   Strategic Framework p39  Back

147   Q 233 Back

148   Strategic Framework p 30 Back

149   Strategic Framework p 31 Back

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Prepared 18 July 2012