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RoSPA challenges Government on lack of road safety strategy for England

RoSPA challenges Government on lack of road safety strategy for England


The Government’s failure to act on publishing a revised road safety strategy contributed to almost 30,000 people killed or seriously injured on our roads last year, according to RoSPA’s Life President Lord Jordan, as he challenged the standing Government yesterday.


Whilst its counterparts within the UK, such as Wales and Scotland, have produced a strategy or - at the very least – confirmed a release date for an update, England’s transport department sits idle.

It was therefore a decision built on necessity that Lord Jordan delivered an oral question within the main chamber of the House of Lords to address this concern.

He said: “My Lords, England’s previous road safety strategy elapsed in 2019, meaning that we are now the only country in mainland Britain and G7 not to have a published road safety strategy.

“England, once a global beacon for road safety, has seen countries such as Finland and Sweden overtaking us. The Government’s failure to act meant that in Britain last year almost 30,000 people were killed or seriously injured on our roads, and the overwhelming majority of them were in England.

“This is unacceptable. Will the Government commit to publishing a new road safety strategy and national casualty reduction targets now and, having published them, act on them?”

This rallying call was met with a spirited debate from across many speakers representing their respective political party within the house.

Conservative peer, Lord Trefgarne remarked that potholes were the main issue: “My Lords, is not it the case that the poor standard of road safety in some of our areas is caused by the large number of potholes in the roads, which need to be fixed and are very numerous What can be done?”

Crossbench peer, Lord Birt, considered the notion that modern forms of transport such as electric vehicles need to be held to a legal legislation when he stated: "My Lords, one night last week at a complex five-road junction in south London, I encountered e-bikers coming at me from every single direction, all without helmets, some on the pavement and many without lights. 

“Many were running red lights, and many were travelling well in excess of the 15.5 miles per hour limit.  E-bikers are turning our city streets into high-risk environments for pedestrians. Is not it time to bring them under a tighter legal framework?"

Speaking of her time as Defence Minister, Baroness Goldie considered whether the Ministry of Defence could assist the Department for Transport with putting together a strategy: “My Lords, when I was Defence Minister, I had the privilege in March this year of launching the defence road safety strategy.  Our imperative to do that was because we discovered that more Armed Forces personnel were being killed on the roads than were being killed on operational deployments.

“Would it be helpful to my noble friend, because I imagine that the principles of the strategy are pretty similar, whether it is the MoD or the Department of Transport, to engage with the MoD, which I am sure would be prepared, as ever, to assist?”

Labour’s Lord Whitty discussed the effectiveness of previous road strategies, noting that: The 1990s Conservative government, with Peter Bottomley as Road Safety Minister, produced a road safety strategy, and they cut deaths by 40 per cent during that period: “The first Blair government… also had a 10-year road strategy, and again cut deaths by 40 per cent.

“Progress since then has slowed. We need to integrate road design, vehicle design, driver behaviour and many other aspects in a clear strategy that is pursued for a length of time. Will the Minister please take that back and ask his officials to again draw up such a strategy?”

Rounding off the discussion, and agreeing with Lord Witty’s previous remarks, Baroness Scott of Needham Market cited RoSPA’s research and findings in her response, she asked: “Has the Minister seen the research from RoSPA which shows that pedestrian safety is measurably worse in areas of deprivation? It holds true for all age groups, but particularly for children. Would he not agree that this demonstrates the need for the sort of approach just outlined by the noble Lord, Lord Whitty?”

As Parliament heads towards its Christmas recess, there is a question hanging in the air that is yet to be answered. Sparked by Lord Jordan, the Government’s lack of road safety strategy is now an issue that can no longer be swept under the carpet, and will perhaps be pondered and discussed in the House of Lord’s sister chamber: the Commons.

For now, as 21 million road trips are planned over the Christmas period within the UK, the importance of road safety and the need for a strategic framework couldn’t be more evident.  To begin work on reducing road deaths and provide a clear sense of direction to lawmakers, local authorities and the general public, it is time for action.


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