London, 15 Mar 2000.
For immediate release.

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Government Fails To Meet 2000 Road Safety Target As Casualties Have Actually Risen
So Why Does it Think it Can Meet 2010 Target Using the Same Methods?
The Government has set tough targets for reducing road casualties during the next decade, but the methods by which it proposes to pursue this improvement are depressingly familiar - lower speed limits, more enforcement and more traffic calming, with only token efforts to improve driving standards.

But the government has hopelessly failed to meet the previous target, set in 1987, for a 32% reduction in road casualties by the year 2000. Instead, casualties had actually INCREASED by 1% by 1998.

It is clear that increased traffic levels cannot be to blame for this failure, as the 1987 target document stated quite categorically that safety measures already in place at that time would hold casualties in the 300,000-350,000 bracket, irrespective of traffic increases.

"It is quite clear, therefore, that whatever new measures have been brought in since 1988 have, by the Government's own criteria, failed comprehensively to cut road casualties," said ABD spokesman Mark McArthur-Christie. "When one is in a hole, it makes sense to stop digging, but the government won't listen. They persist with an anti speed focus which achieves very little benefit compared with the damage it does to driving standards by interfering with drivers' ability to judge road conditions for themselves."

The Government have also been accused by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, of which the ABD is a member, of failing to even measure its success against some key specific casualty reduction measures that were included in the 1987 targets. These identified target savings of up to 13% from a greater emphasis on safety in engineering improvements to roads and a further 15% cut in car occupant and 10% in pedestrian casualties from better vehicle crashworthiness.

If these measures were successful, and there is every indication that they should have been, then they are masking what is really a significant increase in other areas of casualty causation.

Even when it comes to fatalities, where there has been a useful improvement since the mid eighties, the message from the figures does not support government policy. By 1994, a 35% reduction in fatalities had been achieved, but this reduction levelled out dramatically over the second half of the 1990's, only moving up to 39% by 1998.

It is worth reflecting that speed reduction measures in the form of limit reductions, cameras and traffic calming, only became widespread during this period when fatalities stopped improving.

"It is unfortunate that Lord Whitty, the Road Safety Minister, has refused to meet with ABD representatives to discuss these issues," concludes McArthur-Christie. "These figures suggest that safety policy based on speed reduction is not working and may even be counterproductive. The ABD have some of the answers to this conundrum and to exclude us from the debate is simply going to perpetuate this situation and create more misery for everyone."

 

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