By John Simpson 18 July 2012
Last year’s rise in road deaths was the result of a lack of decisive action on many key issues from the Government which saw road safety slip down the list of priorities.
That’s the view of Julie Townsend, Deputy Chief Executive of road safety charity Brake, who was speaking out as the Transport Committee issued its report advising how the Department for Transport should react following the first rise in annual road deaths since 2003.
The Transport Committee has urged the Government to explain the rise in road deaths and show more leadership.
Julie Townsend said that urgent action is required to tackle the number of crashes involving young drivers.
“Young drivers are involved in a huge proportion of serious road crashes, and often young people themselves are the tragic victims,” she commented, before suggesting a minimum learning-to-drive period to build experience amongst younger drivers.
“It is horrifying and unacceptable that more people are dying and being maimed on our roads,” she added.
“Successful road safety measures are a critical investment that can deliver a range of benefits to society and the economy, yet in recent years we have seen dramatic cuts in road safety funding, casualty reduction targets abandoned, and a lack of decisive action on many key issues.”
Kevin Clinton, Head of Road Safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said the report illustrates how spending cuts and service re-jigs are taking their toll on road safety.
“Although we are still in the early days of the Strategic Framework for Road Safety, we are pleased to see that the Government is going to review it this year,” he commented.
“It is important to identify whether the road safety strategy can be improved because, as the economy picks up in the coming years, road use will increase and we do not want to find ourselves in a situation in which road deaths and injuries are rising as a result.
“We therefore need to prepare for economic improvements, as well as more people cycling and more young drivers coming back on to the roads. These are among the factors that may put an upwards pressure on road casualty figures and now is the time to review what is happening and what can be done.”
Mike Frisby, Chief Examiner with the Driving Instructors Association, believes that there is a large gap to be filled before learner motorists begin taking lessons.
Mr Frisby says there needs to be a holistic approach to educating young people on road safety for road safety and called for driver education to be on the national curriculum from an early age and parents, teachers and other influencers of learner drivers to be involved in ensuring robust and effective driver education.
“The Transport Committee is right to highlight the issue of young drivers, because the system is clearly not working,” he commented.
“Road safety education in the UK seems to start and end with the Green Cross Code, and 17 is far too late to start it again.
“The government has been tinkering around the edges in the last few years when what is needed is wholesale reform and a cradle to grave educational approach.
“Too many learners are put under pressure by parents who don’t think through the consequences of poor driver education and end up bargaining their children down to the least number of lessons at the lowest price.”
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