Report highlights need for advisory road safety body
The report on UK Transport Safety: who is responsible? has been published by the Transport Safety Commission. The Commission was established in autumn 2013 following a recommendation by the Transport Select Committee and the report is the result of the Commission’s first inquiry which was co-chaired by Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, and Sir Peter Bottomley MP.
Amongst the report’s recommendations concerning road safety are:
- improved arrangements for accident investigation so that learning is separated from the prosecution
- creation of an advisory body for road safety independent of government
- restore resources for road safety to recent historical levels to fund additional measures which would provide good value for money
- stronger leadership from Central government and more coordinated action across government departments
- the setting of ambitious road casualty reduction targets by the government
- recognition by the Health and Safety Executive and employers that work-related road casualties are their responsibility
- adoption of a systems approach to casualty reduction
- better treatment for the victims of road traffic crimes
- improving actual safety and the perception of risk of active travel (walking and cycling).
The report notes that after several years of steady decline there was a rise in road casualties in 2014 which shows casualty reduction cannot be taken for granted.
Professor Glaister said: “It seems perverse that we effectively have double standards when it comes to investigating deaths amongst the travelling public.
“No expense is spared when it comes to establishing the cause of harm on public transport and there is a well proven system for recommending improvement as a result of findings.
“Compare that with what happens on the roads. Perhaps there is a feeling that road users are in charge of their own destiny and hence their lives are not as important. Yet many casualties are innocent parties and we should be protecting them as carefully as anyone who pays a rail or air fare.
“Around 30% of road deaths occur during the course of employment and greatly exceed those occurring in the workplace, yet the Health and Safety Executive’s priorities do not include work-related road safety.
“That all our recommendations refer to road rather than aviation and rail safety is a sad indictment of a continued collective failure to tackle an appalling situation that somehow is seen as acceptable by those in authority.”