Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Ninth Report


170. The research commissioned by the Government and the pilot projects which it has funded have shown very clearly what ought to be done. Unfortunately, too few local authorities have adopted comprehensive speed reduction measures. Local authorities rightly cherish their independence, but this should not extend to neglecting road safety: saving lives should not be a matter for discretion. The Government has to change this situation and take a lead

171. The Government should establish a National Speed Management Strategy which should:

- highlight the effect of decreases in speed on reducing casualties;

- set targets for reductions in speeds by local authority;

- publish examples of success and good practice, and take measures to get them adopted;

- establish a programme to change attitudes, including misinformation from the press; seek a more responsible attitude to speeding from the media, advertisers and motor manufacturers; and provide a much larger publicity budget to encourage safer driving;

- involve Government, highway authorities, police, and motoring organisations in developing the strategy, and

- publish a regular report on success in implementing the measures set out in its document, New Directions in Speed Management (March 2001).

172. This strategy will not be sufficient on its own. Road safety should be given a higher priority in the Ten Year Plan. The Transport Research Laboratory concluded that £3bn would be adequate to make urban roads safer by major changes to their design. This sum will no longer be sufficient. The Department of Transport should now estimate the total amount which needs to be spent on safety measures. This should be specifically identified in the Ten Year Plan. The DTLR should provide funds for further demonstration projects, including Safety City Projects in each region of the country, and similar projects in rural areas.[250]

173. The Government should insist that all local authorities introduce Speed Management Plans which give priority to pedestrians in urban and rural areas. If local authorities do not introduce schemes to deal with speed, best practices should apply.

174. Road Traffic Speed is not just a matter for the DTLR, but for the whole Government. There has to be a consistent approach from the whole of Government, including DTLR, the Home Office, the DfES, the DTI and the Department of Health. Road safety must be a central part of the many strategies which these Departments are drawing up.

175. Finally, and most importantly, the Government needs to give political leadership. This could have a major effect on whether local authorities take action or not. It means that when the media attacks measures to reduce speed and promote road safety, Ministers are present to defend their policies and those of local authorities. When lives are at stake the Government should attempt to lead public opinion. This has not happened to date. Professor Allsop informed us that

"Another judgement that the Government will have to make in their determination to influence speeds is how and how fast it is effective to try to move ahead of current opinions and behaviour on the part of drivers who will continue to determine what will be the prevailing speeds in the future ... but the Government often has the job of moving ahead of relevant opinion".[251]

250   The DTLR already provides: to encourage an expansion of 20mph zones (£3.5m) home zones (£30m fund) and to fund five demonstration projects to improve safety on mixed priority urban routes (5.5m). Back

251   RTS 36. Back

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