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The RAC Foundation's 'Road Safety Since 2010' Report

By raccars Published

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A Government report due this week is expected to show rising numbers of road fatalities in the UK, according to the RAC Foundation. The motoring charity has published its 'Road Safety Since 2010' analysis, claiming that the Government must implement new targets in casualty reduction if road safety statistics are to be improved.

Detailed analysis of road safety data for 2014 shows casualties rose by 4% year on year, to 1,775. Serious injuries statistics also rose by 5% year on year. While these figures are lower than the average seen between 2005 and 2009, disappointingly this is the second time that road casualties have risen in the last four years.

The RAC Foundation, a road safety and transport policy charity, suggests that a failure to set national targets for road safety and lower spending by local authorities have contributed to the statistics. The organisation's research showcased 34 local authority areas and concluded that a reduction in resources since 2010 had contributed to a poorer road safety record for 85% of councils. Sixty per cent of those local authorities considered that they had made poor progress in road safety in the last five years. Seventy six per cent were unimpressed by road safety policy as managed by the previous coalition government. The report expressed concern that further planned cuts to local authority funding could see road safety fall even further down the priorities list.

The RAC Foundation's report did, however, commend the work undertaken by Highways England, previously known as the Highways Agency, which has established ambitious casualty reduction targets for the strategic roads network. 'Road Safety Since 2010' was co-authored by the RAC Foundation and the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), a registered charity. The report is an evidence based tool designed to help the new Conservative Government shape its road safety and transport policies.

Dramatic geographic distinctions exist in the nationwide road casualties picture, with London, Northern Ireland and Scotland seeing a decline in road deaths and injuries in the last five years. However, more than half of local authorities in the UK claimed an increase in casualties since 2010. Wales demonstrated the worst performance for road safety over the last five years.

In particular, the 'Road Safety Since 2010' report saw local authorities criticising the abolishment of specific reduction targets for deaths and serious injuries on the roads. It was noted that a number of action plans put in place by the previous Government have been successfully implemented, including the creation of new offences, Fixed Penalty Notices have been increased and police enforcement has been improved by the introduction of roadside drug screening equipment. On the other hand, a promise to include road safety messages at driving theory test level has not been completed.

The RAC Foundation is particularly concerned about the situation, given that cars are safer than ever, but more vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists, account for a higher percentage of road deaths as a result. Certainly the failure to deliver a promised Green Paper on how to improve road safety among younger drivers has already received much criticism and road safety organisations have been enthusiastically pushing the new Government to reinstate this policy. It is believed that economic factors and a move towards localism drove road safety further down the priorities list for the previous Government, without diverting resources to local authorities to be able to implement their own road safety policies.

The organisation believes that while improvements have been made on a long term basis, there needs to be new focus upon road safety in the short term to avoid backsliding.

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