Road Safety Strategy Statement
The safety of road users is of prime importance for all transport initiatives within our Area and is incorporated into linked strategies and programmes such as highway maintenance, Safer Routes to Schools, travel awareness, and cycling programmes. The need to encourage road safety was strongly endorsed during consultation and has been confirmed during engagement with local communities on individual schemes. Accident causes are diverse and we need targeted programmes to reduce the casualty toll.
The Government set national targets for casualty reduction in the 10-year plan. In the Metropolitan Area, we are on course to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured by 2010 by 40%, reduce the number of children killed or seriously injured by 50%. This good progress is reflected in our designation as a Centre of Excellence for Integrated Transport specialising in road safety. However, we are not complacent and have adopted even more challenging targets. Although reductions in casualties will become increasingly difficult, we see our targets as achievable with the funding which this plan allocates for a wide range of measures and programmes.
A computerised database is used to record all injury accidents reported to the police, identify particular problems, monitor the results of schemes and analyse trends against targets.
- 82 people were killed in the West Midlands (7 of whom were children)
- 1,067 were seriously injured (191 children)
- 10,665 suffered slight injuries (1,386 children)
Source: APR 2005
Opportunities to Improve Safety
It is essential that we tackle road safety in a coordinated way using both revenue and capital resources, given the complexity of the issues. We achieve this:
The Government, West Midlands Police Authority and Highways Agency are the principal partners with which the Metropolitan Authorities work to reinforce the impact of road safety initiatives. We raise awareness of drink driving campaigns, new traffic measures such as Red Routes, safety measures installed during recent maintenance of the M6 and A38(M), education campaigns such as the Driver Improvement Scheme, and our Help2Travel web site which provides real time information.
Within Authorities there are opportunities across Departments to improve road safety through:
Education each Authority has road safety officers who co-coordinate initiatives such as Safer Routes to School and who provide material on road safety and cycling proficiency for schools.
Planning decisions on planning can have implications for road safety. The scale and location of major housing, employment and shopping development can influence the need for car use rather than safer travel. Regeneration of inner areas provides the opportunity for safer environments. Local development provides the opportunity for safer layouts for housing, jobs, schools and shops, and for safer access by segregated footpaths, cycle ways and public transport, reducing the need for car travel.
Control Authorities have regulatory powers to set standards for layout and access which ensure that developments encourage road safety.
Analysis the Authorities continue to analyse accident records and identify trends and 'cluster sites' where there is most opportunity to tackle road safety problems. The identification of targets provides the opportunity to focus programmes in the most effective way. Future work is assisted by the results of 'before and after' studies and by reviews of individual schemes and programmes.
Improvements resources available through the Integrated Transport Block and other sources, such as the Single Capital Pot and developer contributions, enable a limited programme of local safety schemes aimed at 'cluster sites'. Safety improvements are also an important element of the assessment of Major Schemes.
Management maintenance and operation of transport systems provide opportunities which are incorporated into the deployment of revenue and capital resources. Wider opportunities to improve road safety include surface maintenance, street lighting, signs, operation of safety cameras, employment of school crossing wardens and arrangements for winter gritting.
Innovation pilot studies provide an opportunity to evaluate new ideas. Recent pilots have included an assessment of different types of road surfacing in bus lanes, and the development of road safety programmes for deprived areas.
Design the adoption of design standards provides an opportunity to ensure road safety is built in from the beginning. Consistent application of standards brings the benefits of past experience and consistency for road users. Standards take in DfT Design Manual for Roads and Bridges, and experience from pilot and 'before and after' studies.
Audit independent safety audits provide opportunities to check individual schemes during the design, implementation and operational stages to identify ant tackle potential problems.
Key Elements of the Strategy
Key elements are to:
- use education, training and publicity to help road users travel as safely as possible
- ensure that everyone has access to road safety advice, particularly schools
- target safety training at vulnerable users such as cyclists and pedestrians
- ensure all new infrastructure has been subjected to safety audits
- implement local safety schemes targeted at accident blackspots
- implement a programme to ensure compliance with speed limits and traffic signals, using enforcement cameras supported by educational campaigns and initiatives
Our road safety education programme aims to equip road users with the knowledge and skills to travel as safely as possible. Strategic partnerships have been established across partner authorities and public and private sector organisations to maximise the use of resources.
As a minimum, we aim to ensure that everyone who lives, work or travel in our Area has access to road safety advice and information. Educational establishments are regularly encouraged to use the advice and resources available, particularly at key stages in vulnerability. We also want to ensure that the public knows about road safety issues and legislation. The Driver Improvement Scheme aims to educate drivers convicted of motoring offences about safe driving skills, as an alternative to a fine and/or penalty points.
This LTP2 includes programmes to improve traffic safety. Local Safety Schemes are designed to tackle accident blackspots using improved traffic signs, road markings, street lighting and junctions; anti-skid surfacing; pedestrian and cyclist facilities; and traffic calming measures.
Local Safety Schemes completed in 2000/01 show an average reduction of 27% in casualties, with an average rate of return of 207%, indicating excellent value for money and return on resources (Local Safety Schemes are monitored by comparing accidents in the three years before and after a scheme).
Source: APR 2004 Transport Monitor Figure 21-9
Local Area Safety Schemes address accidents that are more widely scattered. They use the tenets of Urban Safety Management and lessons from the Safer City project to develop area schemes with the involvement of local people. The Government has expressed concern over casualty numbers in disadvantaged communities and deprived areas in the West Midlands suffer higher accident rates.
Casualties per ward per 1000 population on unclassified roads in the 10% most deprived wards in the West Midlands are double the rate for the 10% least deprived wards, both for all casualties and for child casualties.
Source: APR 2004 Transport Monitor Figure 21-6
Many engineering, education and Safer Routes to School projects have been targeted at these deprived areas. These areas will remain a priority. Many areas are also a target for community regeneration, in which transport and road safety improvements have an important part. There have already been a number of schemes to reduce the high number and severity of casualties, particularly among children, which will have made a significant impact.
Three current initiatives have all attracted additional funding.
The Sandwell Neighbourhood Road Safety Initiative (NRSI) has a total cost of £2.75 million over two years, of which £1.28 million has been awarded through the national NRSI. The importance of community involvement and awareness is recognised and consultation is being used to bring forward individual elements of the initiative. A series of 12 accident reduction measures are proposed, which are a mix of engineering, education, enforcement and encouragement, all aimed at reducing child casualties in the 11 most deprived wards.
Solihull MBC bid successfully in 2001 to undertake a 'KerbCraft' child pedestrian training scheme funded by the DTLR's National Pilot of Child Pedestrian Training Schemes Programme. This funding was for three years and has now been extended for a further two through funding from the Government's local Public Service Agreement. The scheme focuses on seven schools in three deprived wards. Volunteer trainers are teaching 300 children, aged 5 to 7, about how to look for safer crossing places, cope with parked cars and cross safely near junctions. Early indications are promising. The project provides value for money, contributing to road safety, health and accessibility objectives.
Birmingham is the Department for Transports partner for the Inner City Road Safety Demonstration Project. This focuses on part of East Birmingham (Saltley, Alum Rock and Bordesley Green). The six-year, £6 million project is aimed at improving road safety in the context of social inclusion and community regeneration, through an integrated approach. Local people will have a key role in determining the infrastructure improvements required to promote safety and regeneration. Partnerships will be developed with service providers such as education, health and social care.
Source: Individual Authorities
The lessons from these initiatives will be applied throughout our Area and will be incorporated in a good practice guide for use by other local authorities. Monitoring of trends against targets will continue throughout the Plan period, with the programme reviewed as necessary.
Accidents involving motor bikes and scooters (i.e. powered two wheelers) have increased in recent years in line with national trends. This is in part due to increased popularity and mileage. New research into powered two wheeler accidents is aimed at developing effective measures to reduce casualties.
Source: CEPOG Road Safety Sub Group
The Safer Routes to School Programme introduces physical measures in conjunction with education and training, to improve safety and encourage travel by more sustainable modes. There is particular emphasis on the development of school travel plans. This programme links into our LTP safety objectives and strategies for walking, cycling and public transport. The approach is to establish partnerships under which local authorities undertake physical measures and schools commit to soft measures such as road safety awareness training, cycle and pedestrian training and Walk to School week.
The Department for Education & Science and Department for Transport have invested £50 million in school travel initiatives. This funding has enabled authorities to take on School Travel Advisors on a two year bursary. Their job is to encourage schools to write travel plans. The financial incentive to take part is substantial: once a school travel plan is completed and approved, primary schools receive £3,750 plus £5 a pupil and secondary schools receive £5000 and £5 a pupil.
The Mercia Group of Road Safety Officers, which includes the West Midlands, has produced 'A Safer Routes to School Toolkit' which has been published by the Local Authorities Road Safety Officers Association (LARSOA). This can be used by Partner Authorities to develop Safer Routes to School Programmes.
We are adopting the concept of upgraded school routes to establish 'Safer Routes to Stations'. Measures will include improved lighting and managed landscaping, to encourage safer access by walking and cycling.
The West Midlands Casualty Reduction Partnership, involving the seven Authorities, Police and Magistrates Courts Committee, has been set up to manage safety (speed and red light enforcement) cameras in our Area. This is part of the national 'netting off' scheme under which income from penalties is used to operate and maintain safety cameras. This funding also pays for new camera sites, mobile camera enforcement and the promotion of speed awareness. The cameras have proved to be effective in saving lives and casualties and the number of cameras is being increased to cover sites where speeding and red light running is a problem.
A study of accidents within 500 metres of 250 safety camera sites, comparing the three years before and three years after installation, showed fatalities and serious injuries down by 165 and the total recorded casualties down by 1,700.
Source: West Midlands Casualty Reduction Partnership Study 2004
A review has led to the removal of 'historic sites' that fail to meet current criteria or which fail to serve a road safety purpose. Measures are also being taken to improved the credibility and effectiveness of cameras, including:
- yellow panels on all cameras and cutting back of foliage to improve visibility
- better signing in advance of cameras, including new reminders of the speed limit in 30 mph areas
- improved follow-up of evasive offenders, including home visits by police enquiry officers to pursue those who fail to comply with the legal requirements after an offence
- a publicity drive highlighting the case for cameras, including campaigns on television and radio, in printed media and on stadium advertising
The increasing take-up of 'decriminalised parking' powers will enable the Metropolitan Authorities to take over the lead role in the enforcement of traffic regulations from the Police, giving Authorities greater power to improve the efficient and safe use of the road network.