Whilst five road deaths a day is half the toll in 1992 when RoadPeace was founded, it is still five too many.  And road deaths have stopped declining since 2010. 

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.

So what is being done to prevent road deaths and injuries - Safe System, Vision Zero or Road Danger Reduction?

 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. Its Vision Zero has been extended to road danger reduction.

Road danger reduction differed from traditional road safety in that it:

  • believed that those who posed the risk (motor vehicles) had the responsibility to mitigate the risk, with danger tackled at source
  • promoted walking and cycling
  • was concerned about the wider environmental and health impacts of excessive and inappropriate motor vehicle use

There is now a much greater link between injury prevention and physical health with active travel promotion. But this has taken decades to develop.

Tackling danger at source

Two key ways of tackling danger at source include enforcing traffic laws and designing out danger.

Enforcing traffic law

Behaviours that multiply the risks to those outside the vehicle should be the major focus of traffic law enforcement.  But these are treated very unevenly:

  • speeding is by far the most commonly punished infringement (but this is increasingly done by cameras);
  • hand-held mobile phone used is reaching epidemic proportions but its punishment is infrequent and declining;
  • testing and punishment for drink-driving is declining, though the offence is not.

 In its work as Justice Watchdog, RoadPeace seeks to monitor trends and highlight problems when needed. See our Lawless Roads report available here: Our Lawless Roads: Road policing, casualties and driving offences since 2010, England and Wales

Designing out danger

Driving an HGV in a busy urban environment is highly demanding. And because of the massive damage that can result from even the smallest error, there is much at stake. RoadPeace has therefore been actively engaged with a string of initiatives to publicise the ways in which vehicle design, vehicle equipment, driver behaviour and fleet management can contribute to a reduction in both road danger and the casualties that do result.

Promoting walking and cycling

  • Along with the rights of victims, RoadPeace has supported the rights of walkers and cyclists - those people who are more likely to suffer injury or death and least likely to pose it to others
  • We believe that measures that protect those walking and cycling also protect those inside cars
  • This includes reduced speed limits, and safety cameras