Headlines: February 26th, 2007



The Audit Commission says local authorities should work to raise awareness of road safety issues among secondary school pupils. In a report today, it is also recommending that police forces should improve the accuracy, completeness and timeliness of data on road accidents. The report, ‘Changing Lanes’ says that the 3,000 road deaths and 237,000 injuries each year cost the National Health Service 470 million pounds and it puts the total cost to the economy at 8 billion.

The Commission says councils have proved the number of road accidents can be cut by focusing on changing road users’ behaviour and it points to the example of the York and North Yorkshire Road Safety Partnership which reduced the death toll on local roads from 85 in 2005 to 68 in 2006. Measures such as redesigning road junctions and putting in pedestrian crossings had contributed to a reduction in death and serious injuries but engineering initiatives, the Commission says, are unlikely to be the only way to bring about further reductions.

The report says education campaigns targeted at groups at risk are needed as well as effective enforcement of traffic law. It believes highly focused local campaigns based on reliable information about local problems are also likely to represent good value for taxpayers’ money. The Commission says councils are well placed to coordinate local activities to bring about further road safety improvements. Better collection and exchange of reliable information could also play a part in reducing deaths and serious injuries by enabling police, schools, firefighters and health workers to target safety initiatives effectively.

Steve Bundred, Chief Executive of the Audit Commission, said,” Councils have shown that as well as targeting accident blackspots with safety cameras and better engineering, it is also possible to change the attitude and behaviour of road users that cause accidents.’This would also help councils achieve a better balance between road engineering at accident blackspots and the education and enforcement that helps to change road users’ behaviour.”
The report recommends that local authorities should raise awareness of road safety in secondary school pupils and of the resources available to schools. As well as urging police forces to improve the quality of data, it recommends NHS bodies to provide anonymised data about accident victims to highway authorities so they can target their activities more effectively and says central government should set up a system so knowledge from research into road safety is available locall