For immediate release: Wednesday 11 May 2011
From: Brake, the road safety charity
The Government has published its overarching strategic framework for road safety today, including proposals to:
- Introduce a new fixed penalty for careless driving of £80-100, which can be issued on-the-spot by police
- Increase the fixed penalty for driving offences (including speeding and hand-held mobile phone use) from £60 to £80-100
- Divert more drivers found guilty of less serious driving offences onto educational courses as an alternative to prosecution
- Explore the introduction of a compulsory and extended driving test for disqualified drivers before they regain their licence
- Introduce a new post-test driving qualification to replace Pass Plus, and introduce safety messages into the theory test, to help improve safety among young drivers
- Continue progressing development of drugalysers, and consider the introduction of a specific offence for driving with drugs in the body (removing the need to prove impairment)
The document does not include targets for reducing casualties on Britain’s roads, unlike previous road safety strategies.
The publication of the framework coincides with the launch of the UN’s Decade of Action on Road Safety.
Brake is a charity working to prevent road deaths and injuries and caring for victims of road crashes. Brake’s reaction to some of the main elements of the strategic framework is given below. For more information on Brake’s campaigns, go to www.brake.org.uk/take-action.
Penalties and enforcement:
Julie Townsend, campaigns director at Brake, says: “We welcome the move to crack down on risky driving, which too often leads to tragic deaths and injuries, by giving police powers to hand out on-the-spot fines. However, this proposal will have limited impact without increased investment in traffic policing, which is being drastically cut in many areas. We need the Government to make traffic policing a national policing priority, to ensure we have sufficient traffic police enforcing vital safety laws, alongside continuing use of proven technology like speed cameras.”
“We are also desperately concerned that a fixed penalty fine of £80-100 is woefully inadequate as a deterrent to potentially life-threatening behaviour behind the wheel. We should be encouraging greater respect for the law on our roads, which is in place to protect people’s lives. It is an outrage that the Government proposes such a low penalty for behaviour that can lead to devastating deaths and injuries, when you can be fined thousands for crimes like littering that don’t pose a direct threat to human life.”
“We welcome the proposal to introduce stringent re-testing for disqualified drivers, and urge the Government to progress this. These drivers should be required to demonstrate that they have the skills and awareness to drive safely before regaining the privilege of a driving licence.”
Casualty reduction targets:
Julie Townsend, campaigns director at Brake, says: “We are bitterly disappointed that the Government has failed to include targets for casualty reductions, which internationally have been shown to be important in helping to drive progress in tackling deaths and injuries. We have succeeded in significantly cutting road deaths and injuries in the past decade, but it remains that six people lose their lives every day on Britain’s roads and ten times as many suffer serious injuries. These casualties cause appalling trauma and pain to families and communities, and cost society dearly, yet they are preventable. It is vital that we are ambitious in putting a stop to these needless tragedies – particularly at the start of the UN’s Decade of Action on Road Safety. We are concerned that this ambition is lacking from the Government’s strategic framework.”
Driving test improvements and post-test qualification
Julie Townsend, campaigns director at Brake, says: “It is crucial that we put safety at the heart of the driving test, but these proposals don’t go far enough to tackle the huge problem of crashes involving young, inexperienced drivers. We need a far structured approach to learning to drive that enables learner and novice drivers to develop their skills and experience over time.”
Drug driving measures
“Moves to address the scourge of drug driving are incredibly important in tackling casualties and making our roads safer for everyone. We hope the Government will act quickly to implement a specific offence on drug driving, and roadside testing, both of which are desperately needed.”
Brake is an independent national road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the six deaths and 70 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake produces educational road safety literature, runs community training programmes and runs events including Road Safety Week (21-27 November 2011). Brake’s Fleet Safety Forum provides up-to-date fleet safety resources to fleet managers and runs a year-round programme of events. BrakeCare, Brake’s support division, cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.