The government has launched a review into the policing of UK roads because reductions in road casualties “have not been achieved”. The powers that be have previously come under fire for the perceived “stagnation” of the UK’s road safety record, which has not seen a significant drop in deaths for almost a decade.
Figures released last summer showed the number of UK road casualties in 2018 was just one percent lower than in 2017, and even the Department for Transport (DfT) confessed fatalities had largely stayed the same since 2010. That caused safety charities including Brake and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) to criticise the UK’s approach to safety.
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Now, almost exactly a year after the government first confirmed there would be a review into the way Britain’s roads are policed, the DfT has finally issued its first call for evidence. The department will take submissions from various companies and members of the public as it tries to decide how best to enforce traffic laws in the modern climate.
In particular, the DfT says the “wide-ranging” review will explore how intelligence should be used to target dangerous behaviours and how technology can assist in enforcing road traffic law. The review will also look at ways to better understand the value of enforcement in influencing road user behaviour and the country’s current enforcement capability and capacity.
“Great Britain has some of the safest roads in the world, but there is no room for complacency and this government is committed to making our roads even safer,” said Baroness Vere of Norbiton, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport. “Whether we examine the causes of road casualties from the perspective of a safe systems approach or the more traditional examination of education, engineering and enforcement, road user behaviour is a key factor affecting road safety.
“Since 2010 we have seen a plateauing in the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads after years of steadily declining numbers. The government is determined to improve the current situation. For this reason, the Department for Transport has instituted a roads policing review working with the Home Office, the National Police Chiefs’ Council and other agencies.”
The review was welcomed by road safety charity IAM RoadSmart, which said the UK needed the police to be properly resourced to reduce the number of casualties.
“IAM RoadSmart strongly welcomes a review of the effectiveness of roads policing in the UK,” said Rebecca Ashton, the organisation's head of policy and research. “Our annual Safety Culture Report shows strong support for the enforcement of traffic laws with drink and drug driving in the number one spot.
“A reduction in dangerous behaviour on our roads can only be gained by driver education and consistent deployment of roads policing backed-up by the best possible intelligence information. The Covid-19 lockdown has demonstrated that criminality and traffic offences are inextricably linked and the best way to deal with this is by ensuring that the police are resourced properly.
“In our view, making roads policing a Home Office priority and a key performance indicator for chief constables and police commissioners, combined with greater emphasis on driver education, would be the most effective ways to achieve this.”