Whilst five road deaths a day is half the toll in 1992 when RoadPeace was founded, it is still five too many.
It is not just the number of deaths. They are premature, causing the types of bereavement that we most fear – of parents, of children and of young spouses. And with road crashes, deaths are not just premature but sudden and violent. A road death is not a normal death.
The government has adopted the Safe System approach, as explained in their British Road Safety Statement, available here: DfT – British Road Safety Statement.
This approach recognises:
- We can never entirely eradicate road collisions because there will always be some degree of human error;
- When collisions do occur the human body is inherently vulnerable to death or injury; and
- Because of this, we should manage our infrastructure, vehicles and speeds to reduce crash energies to levels that can be tolerated by the human body.
Vision Zero goes further. Introduced in Sweden in 1997, it starts from the premise that all road death and serious injury is preventable. In his draft transport strategy for London, Mayor Sadiq Khan aims to eliminate all road deaths and serious injuries from London’s streets by 2041. It’s Vision Zero has been extended to road danger reduction.
RoadPeace was founded on the principle of road danger reduction:
The basic aim of the Road Danger Reduction approach is to target the sources of danger on public roads, based on the widely accepted approach to health and safety at work. Whilst road safety policies are primarily focused on accepting and adapting to the presence of dangerous motor traffic, Road Danger Reduction is based on the policies of sustainable and active travel, encouraging more ‘benign’ modes of transport such as walking and cycling as an alternative to dangerous, polluting modes, especially in urban areas. In essence, Road Danger Reduction is about reducing the tendency to hurt and kill others, and opposes the false equivalence between mistakes made by those who pose the greatest danger to others and mistakes made by those who pose little danger.
The Road Danger Reduction Forum sets out the principles of Road Danger Reduction in their Charter, which pledges to
- Seek a genuine reduction in danger for all road users by identifying and controlling the principal sources of threat.
- Find new measures to define the level of danger on our roads. These would more accurately monitor the use of and threat to benign modes.
- Discourage the unnecessary use of motor transport where alternative benign modes or public transport are equally or more viable.
- Pursue a transport strategy for environmentally sustainable travel based on developing efficient, integrated public transport systems.
This would recognise that current levels of motor traffic should not be increased.
- Actively promote cycling and walking, which pose little threat to other road users, by taking positive and co-ordinated action to increase the safety and mobility of these benign modes.
- Promote the adoption of this charter as the basis of both national and international transport policy.