London, 1 June 2000.
For immediate release.

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DETR To Launch New "Think! Road Safety" Campaign On 1 June
New "Think! Road Safety" Campaign A Step In The Right Direction - But Speed Focus Still Far Too General.
The Association of British Drivers has given a cautious welcome to the new DETR road safety campaign to be launched on June 1st.

The new campaign, called 'THINK! road safety' is aimed at persuading all road users to be aware of their responsibility for road safety.

According to advance information from the DETR, the new campaign differs from what has gone before in two key areas:

  1. It is aimed at ALL road users - pedestrians and cyclists as well as drivers. For too long, the impression has been given that only drivers are to blame for road accidents and that only drivers should take responsibility for avoiding them.
  2. It encourages people to take responsibility for their own and others' safety, instead of simply following rules and then blaming someone else when something goes wrong.
ABD Chairman Brian Gregory said
"Years of campaigning from organisations like ours is finally starting to make government thinking on safety more realistic. The government has long appeared to be under the impression that all road users could guarantee safety simply by showing unquestioning obedience to every regulation, and that any attempt by drivers to assess conditions for themselves was bound to lead to disaster. For the government to officially recognise that safety can only be improved when road users think about what they are doing, and are aware of the circumstances around them is a great step forward."

Mr Gregory also praised the fact that the campaign is directed at all road users.

"Everyone has a responsibility for the safety of themselves and others whenever they use the roads, just as much when they are walking or riding as when they are driving their cars."

The ABD hopes that the actual campaign will be true to these principles, and will be monitoring the implementation carefully.

The ABD are less enthusiastic about the replacement of the 'Speed Kills' slogan with the equally simplistic 'Less speed saves lives'. Mark McArthur Christie, ABD Road Safety spokesman, argues that

"Far too many local authorities will take this as an excuse to continue to argue that any speed limit reduction will save lives, irrespective of the limit or road conditions at the location in question. It will actually undermine efforts by the DETR to ensure that limits are set for good reasons."

Brian Gregory concluded,

"There is still a long way to go, but there are now signs that responsible motoring organisations, and those within the DETR who are genuinely interested in improving safety on the roads, are just starting to influence policy in the right direction. But we can expect a backlash from those who regard a claimed commitment to safety as the perfect excuse to impose regulation for its own sake. These groups have been responsible for the fact that UK road safety has begun to deteriorate after half a century of improvement, and must not be allowed to regain the initiative."

 

Notes for Editors