Transport CommitteeWritten evidence from the London Councils Transport & Environment Committee (TEC)

London Councils represents all 32 London Boroughs, the City of London, the Metropolitan Police Authority and the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority. We are committed to fighting for fair resources for London and getting the best possible deal for London’s 33 Councils. We lobby on our members’ behalf, develop policy and do all we can to help boroughs improve the services they offer. We also run a range of services ourselves which are designed to make life better for Londoners.

Summary

Our evidence has been developed following consultation with London boroughs and addresses the issues to be examined by the Committee which are relevant to London boroughs. In summary the most significant points raised in this evidence are:

The strategic framework should include targets. Whilst we welcome the Government’s approach to devolving decision making on priorities to the local level, London boroughs have collectively worked towards casualty reduction targets, which have provided the focus to help ensure that progress is maintained in providing improvements in road safety.

There should be recognition that the relatively easier reductions in casualties have now been realized and that a similar magnitude of reduction in the next 10 years is likely to require significantly greater levels of resources.

Decentralisation of funding to local authorities is less relevant to London where boroughs receive funding for the delivery of road safety engineering and education from Transport for London (TfL).

London Councils welcomes local flexibility and innovation in the delivery of road safety initiatives.

Whilst London Councils welcomes the reminder to local authorities of their powers to introduce 20mph speed limits; some further consideration of enforcement methods and the associated costs and effectiveness of the trials so far across the UK, would be helpful.

Wide spread media campaigns, such as the drink driving campaign, have proved to be effective. London Councils recommends that further national campaigns are developed for the most serious and dangerous behaviours, such as drug driving and mobile phone use.

While there is much to be welcomed within the framework and action plan, the action plan appears somewhat vague and rather brief. There are only 12 action points within it and some are slightly sketchy as to what they involve and timescales for delivery.

Evidence

1. Is the Government right not to set road safety targets and is its outcomes framework appropriate?

1.1 Targets

1.1.1 The direction for road safety in London was established in the first Road Safety Plan for London, published in 2001 by the Mayor of London and Transport for London (TfL). This established targets (which were then further enhanced by the Mayor in 2006) to reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured (KSIs), and included specific targets to cut the number of pedestrian, child, cyclist and powered two-wheeler rider KSIs by the end of 2010.

1.1.2 Overall, London has achieved its targets, with a 57% reduction over the last decade in the number of people killed and seriously injured on the Capital’s roads.

1.1.3 Whilst we welcome the Government’s approach to devolving decision making on priorities to the local level, London boroughs have collectively worked towards casualty reduction targets, which have provided the focus to help ensure that progress is maintained in providing improvements in road safety.

1.1.14 The Mayor of London and TfL are currently drafting a road safety plan for London for the period 2012—2020. Given comments made in stakeholder engagement meetings, it is probable that the new road safety plan will include targets. This would place London as a region at odds with the rest of the UK.

1.1.5 A criticism of targets is that they may constrain activity if they are met early in the life cycle of the plan. However, experience from London shows that this should not be a barrier. London’s targets were enhanced half way through its last strategy once the trajectory and evidence supported scope for setting more stringent targets.

1.1.6 London Councils believes that the strategic framework should include targets. Casualty reduction targets are essential to promote road safety and ensure that local authorities focus resources on road safety issues. Targets provide the measurement and need to deliver effective road safety. In the current financial climate, without these targets it is possible that resources could be re-allocated to equally deserving causes at the expense of road safety.

1.1.7 Evidence suggests that countries that have set national targets for road safety have performed well in achieving their targets. For example, the United Nation’s Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011–2020 states that: “Experience suggests that an adequately funded lead agency and a national plan or strategy with measurable targets are crucial components of a sustainable response to road safety”.

1.2 Outcomes framework—Key indicators at local level

1.2.1 At local authority level, we agree that the following local indicators are appropriate:

number of killed or seriously injured casualties; and

rate of killed or seriously injured casualties per billion vehicle miles.

1.2.2 It is difficult to measure all the visitors to London boroughs (for example those who come into London to work, shop or visit tourist attractions), therefore it would be misleading to compare local authorities on their resident populations when some authorities, particularly those in central London, accommodate many visitors. Consequently the following local level indicator would appear to be inappropriate:

Rate of killed or seriously injured casualties per million people.

1.3 Outcomes framework—Key indicators at national level

1.3.1 We agree that the following national indicators are appropriate:

number of road deaths (and rate per billion vehicle miles);

rate of motorcyclist deaths per billion vehicle miles;

rate of car occupant deaths per billion vehicle miles; and

number of deaths resulting from collisions involving drivers under 25.

1.3.2 We would like clarification on whether the proposed national level indicator on the rate of pedal cyclist deaths per billion vehicle miles relates to the number of vehicle miles cycled or the number of motorised vehicle miles that cyclists are exposed to.

1.3.3 We believe that the proposed national level indicator on the rate of pedestrian deaths per billion miles walked will be both difficult to measure and not a true reflection of pedestrian safety as quantifying walking activity in any area is notoriously difficult.

2. How will the decentralisation to local authorities of funding and the setting of priorities work in practice and contribute towards fulfilling the Government’s vision?

2.1 London Councils welcomes local flexibility and innovation in the delivery of road safety initiatives. However, there should be a recognition that the relatively easier reductions in casualties have now been realized and that a similar magnitude of reduction in the next ten years or so is likely to require significantly greater levels of resources. Such recognition can prove to be vital for resourcing of road safety work in local authorities.

2.2 Decentralisation of funding to local authorities, as illustrated by the creation of the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF), is less relevant to London where boroughs receive funding for the delivery of road safety engineering and education from Transport for London (TfL) and are not entitled to apply for LSTF grants.

2.3 There already exists an established road safety week, therefore introduction of a new road safety day (as proposed in paragraph 4.17 of the strategic framework) could be confusing and counterproductive.

2.4 The continuing support for the evaluated Think education programme as a set of learning resources is welcomed (paragraph 4.2 of the framework).

3. Is the Government right to argue that, for the most part, the right legislative framework for road safety is in place? In particular, has the Road Safety Act 2006 fulfilled its objectives?

3.1 We agree with the Government’s assessment that the right legislative framework for road safety is in place. The exception to this is drug driving, which has been identified by the framework as in need of work and legislation around enforcement powers and processes.

3.2 However, boroughs have raised the following concerns:

The use of “pedicabs” is not covered under the existing legislative framework; some boroughs would like to see powers granted to local authorities to issue fixed penalties to “pedicab” operators.

Some boroughs would welcome powers granted to enable enforcement against cyclists, particularly in pedestrian zones.

4. Are the measures set out in the action plan workable and sufficient?

4.1 While there is much to be welcomed within the framework and action plan; the action plan appears somewhat vague and rather brief. There are only 12 action points within it and some are slightly sketchy as to what they involve and timescales for delivery. A plan with clearly defined projects and key milestones would be more helpful.

4.2 Enforcement

4.2.1 Excessive or inappropriate speed is one of the major factors leading to deaths and injury. Figures from TfL show that excessive or inappropriate speed was a contributory factor in 12% of all collisions on London roads in 2010 and a contributory factor in 29% of all collisions. The framework and action plan should include a clear, unambiguous and comprehensive approach to speed management.

4.2.2 The introduction of a fixed penalty offence for careless driving should be approached with some caution. The suggestion is that at present many drivers escape being prosecuted because charges are not brought to court. On the other hand, there is the possibility that careless driving might be trivialised by the use of a fixed penalty notice.

4.2.3 The introduction of a new offence of driving with a specified drug in the body should be treated as an issue of high priority. London Councils supports the introduction of such an offence and would welcome confirmation that the Government will proceed with this.

4.2.4 Boroughs have commented that sterner measures could be taken to combat the increasing trend of texting whilst driving, which is arguably more serious than actually speaking on a mobile phone. This is not mentioned in the framework or action plan.

4.2.5 Whilst London Councils welcomes the reminder to local authorities of their powers to introduce 20 mph speed limits; some further consideration of enforcement methods and the associated costs and effectiveness of the trials so far across the UK, would be helpful. Case studies highlighting costs, funding streams and effectiveness relating to casualty reduction may prove useful.

4.3 Education

4.3.1 Wide spread media campaigns, such as the drink driving campaign have proved to be effective. London Councils recommends that further national campaigns are developed for the most serious and dangerous behaviours, such as drug driving and mobile phone use (by both pedestrians and drivers).

4.3.2 London Councils welcomes the introduction of both a road safety portal for use by professionals and a website for the comparison of local performance information.

4.3.3 Identification of young drivers as a key area for concern is welcomed but the framework is not clear that the proposed new post test vocational qualification will be a requirement or a voluntary option for new drivers. Increasing driver experience pre-test through both professional and private practice is essential with support for parents and other accompanying drivers as a key element so that the trainee benefits whenever they practice.

4.3.4 Road safety professionals have long asked for changes making pre-driver education part of the national curriculum and delivered at year 11 in schools. London Councils would welcome consideration of road safety education and pre driver training being part of the National Curriculum.

4.4 Engineering

4.4.1 London boroughs are keen that new technology is used to drive down casualties. Initiatives such as using 20 mph average speed cameras and ISA (intelligent speed adaptation) fitted to cars should be encouraged. Funding could be allocated to local authorities to lead the way in using new technologies to increase road safety. Whilst the role that new technology can play is referred to in the framework, the action plan is silent on this.

4.5 Single double summer time (UK)

4.5.1 Paragraphs 3.57–3.59 of the framework note that evidence suggests that there would be a reduction in road casualties if British clocks were adjusted to single double summer time. However, while the document comments that the costs and benefits will be important in assessing the case for change, there is no commitment to taking this further.

4.5.2 London Councils is disappointed that the action plan does not refer to any plans to implement or consider an experimental double summer time. Given the potential reduction in road safety casualties, we would welcome a commitment from Government to progress the introduction of single double summer time.

5. The relationship between the Government’s strategy and EU road safety initiatives

5.1 In 2010 the European Commission set a target of halving road deaths in the EU by 2020, the strategic framework (paragraph 6.11) refers to a fall in fatalities of around 37% to 1,770 by 2020. This would appear to be at odds with the EU target, which is not mentioned in the framework document.

November 2011

Prepared 18th July 2012