The RoadPeace Challenge 2023 came to a poignant close yesterday, as emergency services, road crash victims and bereaved families came together for our finale event at the National Memorial Arboretum, in Staffordshire.
Our week of action may now be over, but our calls to action and our determination to achieve Vision Zero remain a top priority.
In our latest guest blog, RoadPeace Challenge co-founder Det Chief Supt Andy Cox, from the Metropolitan Police, tells us why we must continue to fight together to reduce road harm.
By Det Chief Supt Andy Cox, Metropolitan Police
The RoadPeace Challenge is in its third year and I couldn’t be prouder! The event has gone from being a running challenge for myself and a relatively small group, raising funds for RoadPeace, to a national event involving all emergency services, numerous road sector stakeholders, and crucially, victims of road violence.
I’d like to thank everyone who has got involved and done such an incredible job in the week of action. From runners, hikers, cyclists, and horse riders, to community events engaging young and old, highlighting the core issues of preventing road harm.
I’d like to extend my appreciation to everyone who has donated, from personal donations to the superb corporate sponsors. You will all make so much difference to RoadPeace and its mission to support those impacted by collisions. You are an integral part of championing change.
Every death on our roads is tragic and unacceptable, and I have seen first-hand the utter devastation caused by serious and fatal collisions. Despite significant progress to reduce road danger over the last decade, more can be done. The police and all those with a responsibility for managing and operating roads must be relentless in our combined efforts to reduce road danger and protect people.
This week of action is just the start. We must continue the fight and keep those with the power accountable for the unacceptable number of deaths and injuries on our roads.
There are certain issues I want to see:
- Speed limiters
- Lifetime driving bans
- Graduated driving licensing
- Remove the option of exceptional hardship in sentencing
Focus must be on prevention rather than reaction. We cannot wait while more people die. It’s not ok. It must not be tolerated.
Driving standards and the culture of our roads needs to change. How society views the roads and how people behave on them influences manufacturers. It is all interconnected. The public needs to reject speeding as acceptable, if manufacturers and advertisers are to stop selling us speed and power as desirable features on cars. Respectful road use is a lead-by-example concept. Policymakers and practitioners need to eradicate a culture where dangerous road use has become an accepted part of life.
There is a complacent risky driving culture, in which people believe ‘it won’t happen to them’.
Unfortunately, of course, we know it can. The public must challenge their family, friends and themselves not to speed and by making speeding socially unacceptable, influence genuine change in driving behaviour and standards.
Legislation must also be strengthened. Why should somebody successfully plead exceptional hardship, when they have consistently shown they choose to break the law and endanger all other road users?
On all occasions we must prioritise the hardship of crash victims over that of the proven law-breaking driver. Whilst it’s encouraging that death by dangerous driving can now lead to a life sentence of imprisonment, I feel we should intensify focus on proactive sentencing before crashes occur.
I do not believe there is sufficient link to the harm and devastation caused by road criminals to other forms of criminality. For instance, an extreme speeder at excess of 150mph is punished very differently to somebody searched and found to be carrying a knife. Both present risk, but so often the driver escapes any form of significant sentence.
Driving should not be seen as an entitlement but instead be a privilege granted and maintained through a proven safety record. To this extent, when appropriate I would welcome a rise in long term or life-long driving bans.
Deaths and injuries are preventable and the above suggestions are easy to implement. Why are we still waiting?
The next steps for the RoadPeace Challenge are to use what we have all achieved this year as a stepping block to ensuring these measures are no longer ignored. Over the coming weeks, I will be meeting with the challenge committee to influence the change required. This is a mission and a mandate for change, and you are all along for the ride. More soon…
Donations can still be made to the RoadPeace Challenge here: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/roadpeacechallenge
Updated on: 22 May 2023