Articles Tagged ‘Consultation - Brake the road safety charity’

Brake responds to consultation on Clean Air Zone implementation in England

Brake, the road safety charity's response to DEFRA's consultation on Clean Air Zone implementation, submitted 9th December 2016

1. Are the right measures set out in section 2?

Section two of the Clean Air Zone Framework is a comprehensive and detailed policy document, suggesting positive steps towards reducing vehicle emissions and taking a safe, sustainable and healthy approach to transport within major urban centres. The measures drafted to provide the five cities designated Clean Air Zones (CAZ) with practical initiatives designed to improve air quality are effective and appropriate for reducing vehicle emissions within the CAZ. While there are some policy-gaps within the document particularly in terms of resources, Brake would support the implementation of these measures.

The measures in section two are described as being ‘evidence-based’, designed to engage and inform the wider public and set down clear regulatory measures and establish definitive emission standards based on best practice. They provide policy-makers with the flexibility to adapt these measures to their local environment and ambitions, encouraging economic growth and regional co-operation but not at the expense of the sustainability agenda.

The measures within this section cover a wide policy spectrum, proposing initiatives that will improve public health, road safety, economic development and local agendas. The document clearly states that it aims to encourage “immediate action with air quality and wider approaches” in mind. Although Brake would support immediate action in order to stem the ever-increasing levels of vehicle emissions in the UK, we would not support this at the expense of effective policies. We cannot afford to sacrifice practical interventions and best practice approaches to increase the speed of implementation. The government and local authorities must work towards implementing these measures in a quick but also comprehensive manner or risk reducing their impact in the long-run.

Traditionally, air pollution is understood as being thick clouds of smog and dust, but carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxides (NOx) and particulate matter are largely invisible to the eye and as a result, many do not see it as a significant threat. By physically outlining the risks within the CAZ, local authorities have the chance to draw public attention to a wider problem that they might not otherwise consider during their day-to-day activities.  

Brake would agree with the document’s assessment of land-use as a critical element of any strategy to reduce vehicle emissions: infrastructure development and traffic management interventions can both be used as a means of reducing or increasing vehicle emissions on the road network, depending on their design. Officials responsible for the design and implementation of road management schemes must keep this in mind and ensure that their plans are clear, coherent and easily navigable by the wider public.

Measures promoting joined-up working between government departments and local authorities will be vital to the development and progression of the CAZ. If current funding trends continue, it is important that these groups find common ground to pool their resources and achieve their overarching goals of improving the living and working conditions in towns and cities. However, Brake would emphasise that responsibility cannot solely be placed on local authorities or on single government departments. This is an international and nationwide problem that requires central leadership and support in terms of policies, funding and research. Without the support of Westminster the CAZ are unlikely to receive the consideration and enforcement they require to be fruitful. Evidence has shown at political will is a critical element of any sustainability policy and, with the government’s recent history of failing to meet expectations in air quality policy, it is all the more important that they are seen to be supporting the CAZ at the national level.

The measures aimed at promoting healthy and active travel are a key area to promote joined up working, as the outcome will affect a range of government departments, including DfT, DEFRA, Public Health England and local authorities across the UK. The broad scope of active travel and its potential benefits requires a cross-departmental response to react appropriately and comprehensively to the issue, and an approach that the government has yet to fully provide.

Brake strongly supports government and local authority sponsorship of innovation and adaption as a means of supporting the CAZ, particularly the incentives encouraging the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles. The range and availability of this technology has escalated in recent years, matched by an increased demand for alternative-fuel vehicles as people seek to take advantage of the environmental and cost-incentive benefits, particularly in the wake of the ‘Diesel-gate’ scandal. However, these vehicles are not a catch-all solution and must be supported by infrastructure developments, including the installation of charge points within the CAZ, properly regulated and maintained road environments, speed restrictions and other environmentally-friendly policies.   

2. Are there additional measures that should be highlighted under each theme?

Brake would suggest that while the measures are a comprehensive representation of the action that needs to be taken to promote sustainable policies and secure the effectiveness of the Clean Air Zones within selected cities, the more detailed elements of these measures must be carefully planned and enacted. Central government and local authorities must work holistically towards the development of a safe, sustainable, healthy and fair environment within our cities or risk the failure of the scheme in its entirety.  

3. In addition to the draft framework, are there other positive measures that a) local and b) central government could introduce to encourage and support clean air in our cities?

Local authorities could also engage with international examples of best practice for promoting clean air and healthier lives within towns and cities. Taking advice from the technological and political trailblazers in the development of eco-friendly cities could provide ideas for affordable, effective and established policy ideas that could further the sustainability agenda in future.

Although local authorities are central to the Clean Air Zones, adapting the measures and regulations to suit their environment and provide the optimum advantages for that region, central government’s role cannot be forgotten and cannot be allowed to fade into the background. It is vital that central government provides overarching leadership and support if the Clean Air Zones are not only to survive but thrive. While the framework is a step in the right direction, Westminster must continue to play a fundamental role providing political will and resources to safeguard the improvement of air quality and potentially expand the scheme beyond its initial boundaries.  

4.  Are the operational standards and requirements set out in Section 3 and Annex A of the framework acceptable?

The standards and requirements set out in section three are detailed and strategic, combining more technical requirements, such as vehicle types, emission levels and geographical boundaries, with more socio-economic preparation that encourages community engagement and effective investment. Brake would support this approach, as it takes the wants and needs of the population into account while basing its regulatory measures on international best practice, such as the EU vehicle emission standards.

The separation of vehicle ‘classes’ based on their pollutant levels is an important element of vehicle standards. The Low-emission zone in London has established the effectiveness of this approach, chiefly regarding HGVs, as local authorities work towards the ambitious aims set out in the Clean Air Zones Framework.    

Although the document provides an outline of exemptions from the CAZ, we would recommend that local authorities and central government ensure that this only applies to those with particularly difficult circumstances and doesn’t provide a loophole for illegal road users with little consideration for the environment and health of their community. Brake would also urge central government to further incentivise the uptake of hybrid vehicles and ultra-low emission vehicles for ‘community vehicles’. As, though they are exempt from the CAZ restrictions as necessarily resources within their communities, they can be made more environmentally-friendly and still operate effectively within their local area. 

5. Do you agree with the requirements set out in Clean Air Zones for taxis and private hire vehicles should be equivalent?

Although Brake supports vehicles being charged equally to discourage their used within the CAZ, we would question who would be held responsible for the infraction in the case of the private hire vehicle: the individual hiring the car or the company responsible for hiring it out.

The individual responsible or hiring the vehicle would be aware that they were driving through a Clean Air Zone, so they should be required to pay. However, there is the unfortunate possibility that they could have been misinformed of the vehicles’ operational standards and emissions when they hired the vehicle. Therefore, Brake would argue that the government should make it a legal requirement for the disclosure of vehicle emission details upon the acquisition of the vehicle in question, to avoid such a situation arising.

Similarly, even though a private hire organisation should be aware if their vehicles’ operational standards and emissions, they would be unaware of the route that their customer plans to take. In order to prevent confusion in situations such as these, Brake would recommend stronger regulation of hired vehicles and once again recommend a clear requirement for the disclosure of a hired vehicle’s emission standards upon rental.

6. Do you agree that the standards should be updated periodically?

The standards set down within the framework should be updated periodically. Vehicle technology and environmental; policy are both developing rapidly, often in a symbiotic manner, as a technological innovation encourages legislation or alterations to environmental policy, or vice versa.

It is, therefore, crucial that a rolling system of review is enacted, to ensure that solutions to future dangers, which may not even be considered at this early stage, are accounted for within the UK’s legislative framework. Innovations in terms of fuel emissions and vehicle standards would also have to be accounted for and adapted to within the Clean Air Zones and a periodical system of updates would prevent central government and local authorities from being left behind in terms of international policy or air quality standards.

Brake advocates speed and proficiency in the government’s response to this technological rapid development, fuelled by international interest and capital. In order to reap the cross-departmental benefits to health, road safety and the environment, the UK must have up-to-date and effective standards and restrictions in place; an objective that can only be met through frequently schedules regulatory reviews.

7. If yes, do you agree that the minimum vehicle standards set out in the framework should remain in place until at least 2025?

Brake does not support the minimum standards remaining in place until at least 2025 as we believe that updates should be on a more frequent basis to encourage improvement and avoid stagnation. Air quality standards in the UK have unfortunately been beset by problems due to overreliance on the Euro V vehicle emission standards that underestimated the extent of damage that NOx emissions can cause to public health. Although this error has been recognised and the government is working to lessen the problem, this occurred due to the infrequency of regulatory updates within the UK and the EU.

In order to ensure that our standards and restrictions, even those at the lowest level of requirement, remain up-to-date and effective the government must shorten the time that these standards are required to remain in place. Policy-makers must also provide incentives to make sure that when they limit for minimum standards run out we do not backslide in terms of requirements and instead move forwards to a clean, safe, healthy future.  

8. Do you agree with the approach to blue badge holders?

N/A

9. Is the approach set out suitable to ensure charges are set at an appropriate level?

The decision to allow local authorities to set the level of charge for vehicles entering a zone is one that Brake would overall be supportive of, especially as the government has provides upper and lower bands that the charge must be set within. This will, in theory, prevent local councils lacking in support for the clean air agenda from rolling back on vehicle charges and regulations within the CAZ. The inclusion of penalty charges for non-payment is an important aspect of the charges as it provides local authority charges for the CAZs with a greater level of gravitas and the support of punitive enforcement measures.

However, Brake would argue that the ability of local authorities to ‘provide discounts’ on charges for early or prompt payment is not conducive to presenting the clean air agenda as a vital and decisive measure. As it provides a loophole for drivers that break the law that must be carefully regulated in the long-run.

10. Do you have any comments on the secondary legislation as drafted?

The secondary legislation that has been drafted in relation to the Clean Air Zones is a clearly defined and thorough piece of legislation. Brake supports the inclusion of the clause allowing the secretary of state to issue notice allowing additional local authorities to become a charging authority if they are able to provide a plan sufficiently targeted to reduce air pollution within their regions. We also strongly approve of the encouragement for local authorities to “co-operate with each other in the discharge of their obligations” as a charging authority. Encouraging involvement and innovation on a wider level will allow the government to support additional Clean Air Zones in the future and provide the local authorities involved with the encouragement needed to interact and cooperate towards the overarching sustainability agenda.

However, Brake is wary of the statement that the charging authorities will have “less onus on regulatory provision”. Although the current government prefers a less regulated policy-approach, without effective management of a strategy of this magnitude there remains a risk that it will not be enacted to its fullest extent.

11. Do you agree with the approach undertaken in the impact assessment? If no, please provide supportive evidence

N/A

12. Do you agree with the approach undertaken in the impact assessment? If no, please provide supporting evidence

N/A

13. Are you aware of any additional data that could inform the impact assessment? If yes, please give details.

No. 

Brake responds to Northern Ireland drink driving consultation

Regulations to introduce measures to tackle drink driving in Northern Ireland - Response from Brake, the road safety charity, May 2015.

Brake is a road safety charity working with communities and organisations across the UK to stop the tragedy of road deaths and injuries, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and support people bereaved and seriously injured on roads.

Question 1 - Do you have any comments on the Department’s approach to introducing fixed penalties for lower level drink driving offences?

To keep our roads as safe as possible, action must always be taken when someone is caught drink-driving to act as both a deterrent and a punishment. Brake welcomes the concept of fixed penalty notices but is disappointed there is no automatic disqualification for every level of the offence. Drink-driving at any level is dangerous and life-threatening, and we must use all available powers to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Brake is concerned that if drivers know they MAY NOT lose their licence after a first offence, this could increase risk taking. If drivers only face a fine, penalty points and a training course after a first “lower level” offence, they may risk drink-driving a first time, making our roads more dangerous than they should be and putting lives at risk.

We believe the possibility of this dangerous behaviour happening in the first place would be reduced if drivers knew they would also lose their licence after a first offence. Research shows that the fear of losing your driving licence has a powerful impact on driving behaviour. [1] There is also evidence of the effectiveness of a one-strike-and-you-are-out policy from Ontario, Canada. They have immediate roadside suspension for drivers with 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood or above, and this is associated with a 17% decrease in the number of people injured or killed in drink-drive crashes in the region. [2]

The objective of a training course that will enable a driver to develop non offending behaviour is welcome and we are pleased this will run alongside and not replace the points and fine. Education and enforcement must go hand in hand [3] and a course should never replace other penalties and punishments.

Research by the Transport Research Lab on the effectiveness of these types of courses shows they do work, but have different effects on different types of drivers. [4] They are most successful for drivers in their 30s, but the evidence shows 17.8% of young men in the lowest social group of course attenders had reoffended after 72 months. To effectively target younger drivers we need a more comprehensive deterrent and punishment. We believe including an immediate driving ban would be more effective. We need to send a strong, clear message that drink-driving is never acceptable at any level, to keep all road users safe, and to stop dangerous and risky behaviour before it starts.   

Likewise if the zero-tolerance alcohol limit that will be in place for new and professional drivers was in place for all drivers, it would be a much clearer and more effective deterrent. 

In Sweden the decision to lower the drink-drive limit to an effective zero tolerance of 20mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood was accompanied by an automatic licence loss at 30mg. Since making the decision to match the reduction in the drink-drive limit with clear a deterrent, Sweden has seen  a 7% reduction in crashes overall and a 10% reduction in fatal crashes [5]. 

By offering lower-level drink-drivers a reduced level of punishment, it could be perceived that lower-level drink-driving is less of an offence. Research shows any amount of alcohol makes you more likely to crash. [6] Even very small amounts of alcohol affect your driving. Drivers with even 10mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood are 46% more likely to be at fault in collisions than sober drivers [7], and when they crash, do more damage than sober drivers [8]. That’s why the only safe amount to drink if you’re driving is nothing at all – not a drop.

Question 2 - Do you have any comments on the Department’s approach to the restriction of the requirement to re-sit the driving test to those disqualified for 12 months or more for offences involving higher levels of alcohol?

Previous legislation saw anyone convicted of drink-driving lose their licence, and it’s not acceptable that people breaking drink-drive laws escape bans because of a change in legislation. We believe every drink-drive offence is serious and deserves a ban, as evidenced in our response to Q 1. Every ban should therefore entail a re-test. Driving is a privilege, not a right. If that privilege is not exercised responsibly, it must be revocable. The change in drink-drive laws is being brought in to reflect evidence that even small amounts of alcohol can have a dangerous impact on driving and this must be echoed by the punishment, if it is to be an effective deterrent. Laws need to be strong, clear and consistent. 

Brake believes there should be a mandatory driving ban for all drink-drive offenders even when the lower limit is imposed, and that this should be of at least one year for all offenders. This reflects the level of danger posed by those who drive after drinking even a small amount of alcohol (again as evidenced in the Q1 response) and sends a clear message to drivers that no level of drink-driving will be tolerated.

Question 3 - Do you agree with the Department’s approach to reducing the threshold for High Risk Offenders to 125mg/100mls?

YES - All drink driving is high risk and extremely dangerous but we do appreciate the legal need to have some categorisation for legal purposes. We welcome this proportionate reduction that means “High Risk” will still be 2.5 times the limit. It should certainly not be any higher.

Question 4 - Do you have any comments to make on the consultation process?    

We are extremely grateful to be asked to use our 20 years of experience in road safety and supporting bereaved families affected by road deaths to contribute to this consultation. The process has been smooth and clear, with comprehensive explanatory notes.

Overall Brake welcomes the planned reductions to the drink-drive limit that will undoubtedly make roads safer and save lives. This is a great step in the right direction by the Northern Ireland Assembly who must be praised for taking it. It’s a useful step forward towards a zero-tolerance drink-drive limit being called for by Brake across the UK. 

We recognise it is beyond the scope of this consultation, but our roads and all road users will not be as safe as they can be until we have zero tolerance across the whole of the UK. The UK as a whole still has the highest drink-drive limits in Europe (along with Malta), and the position is becoming more and more bizarre as different nations adopt different rules and regulation. We need a strong clear zero-tolerance approach across the whole of the UK to let all drivers know drink-driving is not acceptable at any level anywhere in the UK.  

1) Does the Threat of Disqualification Deter Drivers from Speeding?, Department for Transport, 2008.

2) Evaluation of the general deterrence capacity of recently implemented (2009–2010) low and Zero BAC requirements for drivers in Ontario, Road User Safety Division, Ministry of Transportation, 2015.

3) World report on road traffic injury prevention, World Health Organisation, 2004.

4) Reconvictions of Drink/Drive Course Attenders: A Six Year Follow Up, Transport Research Laboratory, TRL574, 2003 

5) Drugs, Driving and Traffic Safety, J.C Verster, S.R. Pandi-Perumal, J. G Ramaekers and J.J de Gier 2009.

6) Drivers Over .08 BAC Pose a Serious Traffic Safety Problem, Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, 2009.

7) Official blame for drivers with very low blood alcohol content, British Medical Journal, 2014

8) The relationship between serious injury and blood alcohol concentration, University of California San Diego, 2011

 

 

 

 

Brake supports Scottish proposals for default 20mph limit in built up areas

News from Brake
Thursday, 14 September 2017
news@brake.org.uk

Brake, the road safety charity, has today pledged its support for proposals put forward in Scotland for a default 20mph limit in built up areas. The charity has issued a consultation response to a members' bill proposed by Mark Ruskell MSP (Mid Scotland and Fife) for a lower speed limit.

Commenting on the proposals, Jason Wakeford, Brake's Director of Campaigns, said: "A default 20mph limit across built up areas in Scotland offers a golden opportunity to save lives, promote sustainable transport and improve the environment.

"Travelling at lower speeds drastically reduces the risk of death and serious injury and encourages more walking and cycling - relieving pressure on the NHS and other public services.

"We fully support Mark Ruskell's proposed bill and want to see more urban areas going 20 right across the UK."

[ENDS]

Brake's full consultation response can be accessed at: http://www.brake.org.uk/top-level/2-about-us/1766-brake-responds-to-scotland-s-20mph-consultation

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety and sustainable transport charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies.

We do this through national campaignscommunity educationservices for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.