Better technology, data and enforcement will help us save lives
Transport Minister Andrew Jones reports on progress in road safety.
Good morning everyone and thank you Adam for that introduction.
It’s a real pleasure to be here and to be part of an event that brings together so many distinguished experts and professionals.
Everyone is dedicated to a common cause of making Britain’s roads safer and it’s a job you do incredibly well. We focus so much on the number of fatalities and injuries on the road network, none of us will ever know precisely how many lives are saved each year through prevention.
Through police enforcement, dedicated road safety specialists within local authorities and your efforts, we can be sure that it’s a very significant number.
That’s why we in government so value what you do and why we want to help you do your jobs as effectively as possible.
Indeed, we have a manifesto commitment to reduce the number of people killed or injured on our roads every year and 9 months ago, we published our Road safety statement, setting out the government’s priorities for improving safety over this parliament.
adopting the safe systems approach to reduce the severity of collisions so more people survive
protecting vulnerable road users, from pedestrians and cyclists to horse riders, motorcyclists and younger drivers
taking tough action against those who speed, exceed the drink-drive limit, take drugs or use their mobile phone while on the road
promoting connected and autonomous vehicle technologies in a way that maximises safety
preparing new motorists for the road through better driver testing and training
enabling the police to use modern enforcement technologies, while protecting the privacy of law-abiding people
We also pledged to work more closely with stakeholders like the insurance industry and employers and to support further devolution of road safety policy.
Altogether the Road Safety Statement detailed 47 actions which we are delivering with you and the broader road safety sector.
How much progress has been made?
We’ve already provided £1 million for police forces in England and Wales to support drug-driving enforcement. This has been backed up in March by the launch of the THINK! drug driving campaign which sends a clear message to the public.
We’re not just going after the utterly irresponsible minority who drive after taking drugs but also warning those who might consider it in the future that the consequences will be very serious indeed.
This was groundbreaking work.
Today I’d like to thank police forces around the country for making it such a success. Elsewhere, we’ve helped local authorities introduce safer traffic signalling and signage and we’ve recently announced new arrangements for our RAIDS collision research programme.
Specialist teams attend the scene of road incidents minutes after they’ve occurred to gather vital evidence.
Phase 1 saw over 1200 collisions investigated and the findings have already proved vital. We’ve also launched several consultations to ensure that road safety keeps pace with changing technology. These include:
Using electronic devices while driving
The use of a hand-held mobile phone at the wheel increases the likelihood of a collision 4-fold and It’s a growing problem.
In January, we launched a consultation proposing increased fixed penalties for phone use while driving and we talked about increases from £100 and 3 penalty points to £150 and 4 penalty points and 6 for lorry drivers.
However, such is the threat posed by mobiles that we now plan to go further with much tougher penalties for motorists using their devices while driving whether calling, texting, or using an app.
We are also developing a THINK! campaign to drive home the message.
You might not be the sort of driver to speed, or drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol but the simple act of glancing down at your mobile phone to send a text at the wheel can be just as dangerous.
We expect to introduce new sanctions in the first half of 2017.
We also want to improve safety of younger and novice drivers.
In fact, around 1 in 5 new drivers are involved in a crash within 6 months of passing their test and following a trial, the DVSA has run a consultation on making sure the driving test reflects today’s driving conditions.
As a result, the proposed new driving test will include a longer period of independent driving and more realistic manoeuvres and a requirement for the driver to follow directions from a sat nav, and answer questions at the wheel.
Connected and automated vehicles
Another consultation came from the Centre for Connected and Automated Vehicles (CCAV).This new technology promises to profoundly change the way we travel - making road transport not just smoother and smarter, but safer too. After all, 90% of collisions involving some form of human error.
With automated vehicles in their infancy, we need to avoid regulating too soon or too far so the consultation set out proposals for reforming regulation to support the introduction of these technologies.
We will publish the outcomes shortly. And there will be more to come.
Accuracy and relevance of evidence
Like much road safety work, progress depends on the accuracy and relevance of evidence.
Highway authorities, police forces, educators and campaigners spend hundreds of millions of pounds a year on road safety in Britain.
And everyone in this room will recognise the critical importance of evidence in getting these decisions right.
This is why we as a government put so much value on police-recorded collision data and we know how much time and work goes into collecting and validating it.
One of our concerns in recent years is whether it’s sufficiently accurate or timely and that’s why £7 million has been invested to create CRASH. This is a common platform for police forces to collect and process collision data and we already we are seeing the benefits.
The average delay between a collision occurring and data arriving at the Department for Transport (DfT) has dropped from around 80 to 30 days. This means highway authorities can respond to problems more quickly.
The use of mapping as part of the data entry can also reduce the number of incorrectly plotted collisions meaning that authorities are less likely to waste valuable funds.
New information about the type of injuries victims are suffering will help improve road safety policy.
CRASH is not yet perfect but we will continue to work with you to understand how it could be made better and to improve the quality of data.
Management capacity review
Finally, to join all this together, we hope soon to start our ‘management capacity review’ which we will look across the road safety industry to identify areas for improvement.
It’s crucial that the sector has the capability to strengthen the evidence-base, and ensure that road safety interventions really deliver and bring down the number of road deaths and injuries.
That’s what the review will accomplish.
So the road safety landscape is changing, technology is changing and techniques are changing.
We have to change if we want Britain to retain its reputation for road safety excellence.
Pushing to improve everything we do.
Focusing our attention on all the areas covered by the ‘safe systems’ approach, from safer roads and vehicles to gathering better evidence.
I’m absolutely confident that we have the right strategy. I’m absolutely confident that we have the most professional and dedicated road safety industry in the world and I’m absolutely confident that together, we can continue reducing the number of road collision victims in this country.