The Tory-led Government has today been warned by former Tory transport ministers that its recently published Strategic Framework for Road Safety has a ‘lack of ambition’ in regards to reducing the number of deaths and serious injuries on Britain’s roads.
The warning comes in a letter in today’s Times signed by former Conservative Road Safety Ministers Sir Peter Bottomley MP and Steve Norris as well as by the AA, RAC Foundation, Association of British Drivers, , Institute of Road Safety Officers, RoadSafety GB, Roadsafe and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.
Labour has previously warned the Government that the decision to cut road safety funding and abandon targets for reducing deaths and serious injuries on Britain’s roads risks setting back the advances made in road safety.
Maria Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, said:
“The Tory-led Government must respond to the growing calls to rethink their decision to abandon tough targets and measures to reduce deaths and injuries on Britain’s roads. When even former Conservative transport ministers are joining a wide range of motoring and road safety in warning of a lack of ambition in improving road safety, it’s time to start listening.
“Labour’s relentless focus on making our roads safer backed up by tough targets resulted in 17,000 fewer deaths and serious injuries in the past decade. In contrast, the Government’s reckless decision to axe these targets, cut road safety funding and the frontline police officers needed to enforce traffic offences risks more deaths and injuries on Britain’s roads. It is a disgrace that the Government has been forced to admit that no assessment of the impact on deaths and injuries was carried out before the decision was taken to cut road safety grants.”
Since the election the Tory-led Government has cut funding for road safety by 40% this year and removed the ring-fencing of Road Safety Grants to local government. This has led to the axing of speed cameras in many local authority areas. In addition, £12 million has been cut from the THINK! road safety campaign.
The Government is also considering less frequent MoTs, despite the DfT’s own figures showing that any such move would lead to more deaths and injuries on the roads. Ministers have floated the idea of higher speed limits despite admitting that they have not carried out any assessment of the impact on deaths and injuries. They have also refused to join every other EU country in signing an agreement to share data about car owners enabling more effective action to be taken against foreign drivers who commit offences on Britain’s roads.
During Labour’s period in office there was a 44% drop in the number of deaths and serious injuries as a result of road accidents in 2009 compared to the 1994-1998 average. Over the same period, the number of deaths fell by 38%, the number of children killed or seriously injured was 61 per cent lower and the slight casualty rate was 37% lower. Yet traffic levels rose by 15% over this period. This success, which made Britain a world-leader in reducing deaths and injuries on the road, was as a result of tough targets and a relentless drive on safety. This will now be put at risk thanks to the decisions of the Tory-led Government.