Wide-ranging proposals to dramatically cut the number of deaths on the roads were set out by Road Safety Minister Jim Fitzpatrick today as he also confirmed a major overhaul of the driver training and testing process.
New measures to ensure all roads have the right speed limit and the formation of a new expert panel to investigate road safety are part of ambitious plans to cut road deaths by a third by 2020 and make Britain’s roads the safest in the world.
The way people learn to drive and how they are tested is also set for major reform. A new road safety qualification will offer young people a partial credit towards their car theory test while the learning process and the theory and practical tests will all be improved. Van drivers also will be given the chance to enhance the skills they need for their work through a new qualification.
Jim Fitzpatrick said:
"We’ve already made real improvements to the safety of our roads – there are now almost 17,000 fewer deaths or serious injuries in a year than there were in the mid-1990s. But it is intolerable that eight people are still dying on our roads each day.
"We want to make Britain’s roads the safest in the world. That will mean improving vehicles and the road network as well as helping drivers and other road users to be as safe as possible.
"The major changes to the driver training and testing process will create better prepared drivers while our plans for the next 10 years aim to make the roads and vehicles they use safer and so prevent many of the terrible crashes which cut short lives and tear families apart."
The DfT’s draft road safety strategy for 2010-2020 – A Safer Way: Consultation on Making Britain’s Roads the Safest in the World – is published today for consultation. Its proposals include:
* New guidance to ensure all roads have the right speed limit. This will recommend that local authorities:
– Introduce, over time, 20 mph zones or limits into streets around schools and which are primarily residential in nature to protect pedestrians and cyclists.
– Review speed limits on single carriageway rural roads, reducing the limit on the more dangerous roads where this will have a significant impact on casualties.
* The formation of a new independent expert panel to identify issues and trends from fatal accidents and provide an annual report on road safety to Ministers and Parliament.
* New targets to cut road deaths by one-third by 2020, to halve the number of child deaths and serious injuries on the roads and to halve the rate of road death and serious injury to pedestrians and cyclists per kilometre travelled.
Later this week, the DfT will launch the first phase of the new THINK! road safety education programme, with resources, activities and materials for early- years and upper- primary children, teachers , parents and Road Safety professionals. The website address will be http://www.dft.gov.uk/think/education.