Britain’s next 10-year road safety strategy, which will lay the framework that all Government-backed road safety initiatives will follow until 2020, is unlikely to be published before the general election.
The news will disappoint road safety organisations that work with fleets as it has been confirmed that tackling the risks associated with driving for work will be one of the key areas addressed by the strategy.
The strategy was expected to first be published at the end of 2009, but at the last minute the minister for transport, Andrew Adonis, appointed Sir Peter North to investigate lowering the drink drive blood/alcohol limit and to look at the need for new legislation to tackle drug driving.
North’s report will not be published until March and will be followed by a consultation.
The road safety minister, Paul Clark, said last week at the RoSPA Road Safety Congress that he will delay the publication of the new strategy until after this consultation has ended. This will effectively postpone the strategy’s publication until after the general election, which is expected in May.
Following the consultations into the new road safety strategy, which were carried out by the Department for Transport (DfT) last year, it became clear that, along with tackling drink driving, speeding and young driver deaths, the strategy needed to address other key areas including at-work drivers.
At-work drivers are involved in one-in-three road crashes.
The consultation asked whether driving for work was an area that needed attention and the responses, according to Paul O’Sullivan head of road user safety at the DfT, indicated that it should be.
“It is a big issue,” he said. “It will be a focus of the strategy, there are six issues and we are asking now whether driving for work should be the seventh.”
The last 10-year road safety strategy has achieved notable success, exceeding its target of reducing deaths and serious injuries by 40%.
“But there are still seven people being killed every day on our roads,” said Clark. “We still need to do more.”
While fleets are still left guessing what the strategy will do to help them manage the risk their at-work drivers face, there are clear indications of what the strategy will contain to help address other road safety issues.
These include 20mph zones in all residential areas and around schools, road-side police drug driving tests, 50mph limits on some rural roads and a lower drink drive limit.