A competition to bring a new mobile breathalyser to the market has been launched, while the RAC Foundation is to trial a new approach to road casualty investigations.
The package of measures, announced by the Department for Transport (DfT), aim to improve road safety.
It says that investigation teams dedicated to analysing the cause of road collisions will be deployed to UK roads later this year.
Supported by £480,000 of Government funding, the RAC Foundation will lead the trial of a new approach to road casualty investigation alongside police forces, with dedicated teams carrying out in-depth research in selected cases to get a better understanding of what is really causing accidents on our roads.
Drawing on the example of the internationally recognised Accident Investigation Branches for Rail, Maritime and Aviation, collisions will be analysed in three regions over three years.
RAC foundation director Steve Gooding said: “We are keen to seize the opportunity to work with the DfT, the police and others to explore the scope for learning more about the causes of the road crashes that continue to blight – and curtail - so many lives.”
Gooding hopes the investigative approach will help establish the practicalities, costs and full benefits of tackling and pre-empting accidents more effectively.
RAC Foundation will work alongside DfT, Highways England, DVSA and the police to gather learning that will help inform Government’s long-term strategy for road safety.
Meanwhile, drink drivers will face swifter justice, according to the DfT, thanks to new roadside breathalyser technology that will allow police to gather on-the-spot proof.
Mobile evidential breath tests, it says, will allow police to gather early evidence of drink driving, by taking a breath sample from suspect drivers at the roadside. The instant test means they will not need to be taken back to a police station to obtain evidence as is currently the case.
It will mean those marginally over the drink drive limit will not have extra time to “sober up” and stand a chance of passing a later test at the station.
The Government is committing £350,000 for a competition for companies to bring the new mobile breathalyser to market.
Roads minister Jesse Norman said: “The drink drive limit has helped to give us one of the safest road networks in the world but there is always more we can do.
“This new mobile breathalyser technology will enable the police to enforce the alcohol more rigorously limit on those who still choose to drive after drinking, putting others at risk.”
The latest figures show that fewer people died on British roads in 2015 as a result of drink driving than in any year since records began.
In 2016, more than 460,000 people undertook breath tests in 2016, with almost 59,000 testing positively or refusing a test.
The competition is being run by PACTS (Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety) in the summer, and will invite companies to submit proposed technologies which will rapidly calculate the amount of ethanol in exhaled breath for use at the roadside.
It is expected police forces throughout the UK will be able to use the device by summer 2020.