15 June 2009

New road safety framework

Wide-ranging proposals to dramatically cut the number of deaths on Scotland's roads were announced today by Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson as he launched a new ten year road safety framework for Scotland.

For the first time, Scotland will have its own road safety targets - the toughest in the UK - with new targets to reduce the number of serious injuries on Scotland's roads by half and the number of fatalities by 40 per cent over the next decade.

However, the Minister said that these were interim targets, leading to an ultimate vision of a future where there are no road fatalities in Scotland - a philosophy which has proven highly successful in other countries who are at the leading edge of road safety.

An expert group has helped shape a raft of new proposals for Scotland which include action to target young drivers, a pilot of high tech devices which restrict vehicle speed to ensure speed limits cannot be exceeded, and examining the case for introducing greater restrictions on newly qualified drivers.

Proposals to encourage local authorities to introduce 20mph zones in all residential areas and commitments to improve school bus safety are also included.

Scotland's Road Safety Framework "Go Safe on Scotland's roads - it's everyone's responsibility", also includes calls for changes in legislation - powers currently reserved to Westminster.

Mr Stevenson said that where the UK Government will not commit to evidenced changes to legislation at GB level, the powers should be handed over to the Scottish Government to take action.

The call comes as the Calman Commission today recommended that some limited powers over drink-drive and speed limits be transferred to Scotland.

Launching the new framework, the Transport Minister said:

"Latest statistics show that Scotland has made tremendous progress in reducing fatalities on our roads, with levels currently at their lowest for more than 50 years.

"We have exceeded the GB targets set in 1999, but it is clear that far too many families across the country are still suffering the heartache of a loved one being lost.

"It is absolutely intolerable that people are still dying on our roads each day, and Scotland needs an ambitious vision in line with other leading countries in road safety.

"That is what this framework delivers.

"This is a framework for all, there will be flexibility about future initiatives, there will be collaboration with all of Scotland's road safety partners, but above all there will be a united effort to save lives.

"This framework delivers distinct and challenging targets for Scotland which can set us on a downward trajectory to achieve a vision of zero road deaths in this country.

"We have concentrated on what we can do within our devolved competencies in Scotland in this framework and we will get down to business and deliver, working with road safety partners across Scotland.

"From education, to piloting new technology, to taking action on school buses, and setting the toughest road casualty reduction targets in the UK, this is an ambitious framework which will save lives.

"However, we have also set out where we want to see legislative change at a Westminster level as I believe this would make a massive impact on reducing casualty rates even further.

"We want to see the drink drive limit brought right down. We want to see breath testing of drivers, any time and anywhere. We want to explore tougher restrictions on newly qualified drivers. We want to see much more stringent training and testing with pass plus included in the pre-training process.

"But currently, we have no powers to take these actions.

"The Westminster Government is currently considering their position on these issues, but there is a unique window of opportunity to make a real impact through legislation.

"Road safety transcends constitutional boundaries, it is about saving lives and we will continue to work with our colleagues at Westminster to press the case.

"But where the UK Government will not commit to evidenced changes to legislation at GB level, we want to see the powers handed over to the Scottish Government - and we will take action.

"This is an ambitious Framework which sets out our vision, our goals; and our commitment to make it happen together. I hope it will galvanise us all to Go Safe on Scotland's roads - it's everyone's responsibility."

Among the proposals are:

  • A pilot of high tech devices which restrict the speed of a vehicle using an onboard computer to ensure that the limit cannot be exceeded (Intelligent Speed Adaptation).
  • Action to improve school bus safety, including the ongoing pilot of latest "SeeMe" bus stop technology, the launch today of new more prominent school bus signs for bus companies, and new guidance to all local authorities on pick up and drop off points.
  • Calls for 20mph zones in built-up areas.
  • New advanced on-board breath test enforcement technology for police vehicles.
  • Examining the case for introducing restrictions on newly qualified drivers such as limiting the number of passengers, engine size, speed and times they drive at through a nationwide debate.
  • New education resources for schools and a new lifelong learning approach to driver training targeting Scots of all ages, including elderly drivers.

Neil Greig, Director of Policy and Research, Institute of Advanced Motorists said:

"The new framework sets the scene for the crucial next decade of crash prevention in Scotland. The key theme of personal responsibility is vitally important as the easy fixes have now all been made. The Government, councils and police simply cannot continue to reduce deaths on Scotland's roads on their own. Road users need to take more responsibility for themselves, and drivers must begin to treat driving as a skill for life.

"IAM research highlights Scotland's unique set of road safety issues: a high fatality rate when crashes occur; a disappointing child safety record; problems with new drivers and most importantly very high levels of serious accidents on rural roads. The good news is the new framework recognises all these priorities.

"No one using Scotland's roads can avoid their responsibility to keep safe. The IAM looks forward to working with the Scottish Government to provide research and lifelong learning solutions that will help meet the very challenging 2020 road safety targets."

Michael McDonnell, Director of Road Safety Scotland said:

"Road Safety Scotland is delighted to see the publication of the Framework, together with targets for 2020. It looks as if Scotland will over-deliver on its contribution to the the 2010 GB targets, and it is good that new and challenging targets have been laid down in the Framework.

"Road Safety Scotland looks forward to working with the Scottish Government and other key partners to deliver on the Framework and reduce the number of people killed or injured on our roads."

Stephen Stradling, professor of transport psychology at Edinburgh Napier University's Transport Research Institute said:

'I am encouraged to see so much evidence-based policy making informing Scotland's Road Safety Framework.

"In particular I welcome the life-long approach to the responsibility of driving without causing harm to others; the interest in developing Driver Awareness Courses for those Scottish drivers caught speeding who, our own research has shown, are twice as likely to be collision-involved and thus in urgent need of help; and the Scottish Government leading by example in introducing advanced driver training for its staff."

Kathleen Braidwood , ROSPA, said:

"Scotland has made tremendous progress on reducing death and injury on Scottish roads over the last 10 years, thanks in large part to the work of the Scottish Government, Road Safety Scotland, local authorities, police forces, fire and rescue services and organisations like RoSPA.

"We at RoSPA warmly welcome and strongly support Scotland's Road Safety Framework to 2020 which is a pre-requisite for continuing and strengthening the fight against the avoidable loss of life and limb on Scottish roads.

The UK Government is currently consulting on new GB targets of 33 per cent reduction in road deaths, 33 per cent reduction in serious injuries, 50 per cent reduction in child deaths and seriously injured. Scotland's tougher new targets announced today are as above.

The Minister is set to be joined by school children from Strathburn Primary School in Inverurie to launch a new more prominent school bus sign for all bus companies, following concerns about the signs. The Minister will also be launching new guidance for all local authorities on pick up and drop off points for school children.

The framework proposes that high tech devices which restrict the speed of a vehicle using an onboard computer to ensure that the limit cannot be exceeded be piloted to test their effectiveness in Scotland. There are three types of 'Intelligent Speed Adaptation' devices. Advisory ISA - where the driver is informed of the speed limit and then needs to make a decision on how to adjust his/her behaviour. Voluntary ISA - where the driver is informed of the speed limit and an on-board computer restricts the vehicle's speed to ensure the limit cannot be exceeded. The driver can choose to override the system. Mandatory ISA - where the driver is informed of the speed limit and an on-board computer restricts the vehicle's speed to ensure the limit cannot be exceeded. The driver cannot override the system.

Latest statistics show that there were 281 deaths in Scotland in 2007.

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