Road Death Toll Drops Below 3000 - Could Do Better
The DfT announcement that road deaths fell below the 3000 mark in 2007 is very welcome, but a lot more could be done to reduce the total even further. The rate of reduction in road fatalities remains effectively stalled since the start of the speed camera era.
Huge advances in car design, making for safer vehicles in terms of drivers, passengers and pedestrians, has played a significant part in reducing the death toll and manufacturers deserve praise for continuing to push design improvements in this regard. Recent best-selling cars almost always achieve a 4 or 5 star NCAP rating.
In addition, the role of air ambulances and improved trauma care is also a significant factor.
What is needed in order to reduce the toll even further is for road safety policy to focus on aspects of dangerous road use (on the part of all road users) that are the major causal factors in injury and fatal accidents. Most accidents occur at low speed at or near junctions, and in 95% of accidents causing death or in jury, exceeding the speed limit is not even a contributory factor, In addition some of the remaining 5% will involve unlicensed drivers and/or stolen vehicles.
So the question must be asked: has road safety improved in spite of, not because of, government road safety policy which all too often amounts to a one-trick speeding pony?
The ABD calls for more highly skilled traffic police on the roads, officers who will be able to detect and prosecute dangerous behaviour as well as educating road users, and a reduction in fixed and mobile speed camera deployment as these devices focus on a minor (but politically correct) factor in road safety.
ABD Chairman Brian Gregory said:
"The DfT cannot claim any responsibility for this reduction. For decades they have resisted advice to improve road user training and to tackle dangerous driving, recklessness and car theft. Whilst they have pursued futile policies the manufacturers have quietly got on with the job of ensuring that the UK car fleet has become not just hugely safer year on year but also more difficult to steal. Airbags, ABS brakes and traction control are now universal and the chances of both avoiding and surviving an accident are greatly increased in a modern car. It is a great pity the design of our road system and policing practices haven't followed their excellent example"