Why are we focusing on this I hear you ask? Well, it’s a tragic reality that every 20 minutes someone is killed or seriously injured on a British road [1], yet each of these tragedies is entirely preventable. By designing our road network in such a way that human error doesn’t result in death or serious injury, known as a safe systems approach, we can end this tragedy.

The great news is these design solutions are known and available to us now. Whether it’s safety technology in vehicles, or speed limits that reflect the safety of the road, we can start implementing these solutions into our road design straightaway.

By focusing on design, we can enable people to move in healthy ways, free from danger posed by the roads we use and the air we breathe. We can eliminate the barriers – often perceptions about safety - that prevent people choosing to walk or cycle and clean up the air we breathe. The policy solutions are already out there: creating segregated safe spaces for people to walk and cycle; and ensuring our vehicles emit as few emissions as possible.

At the moment, however, we are not taking full advantage of these great solutions, resulting in many people not having the opportunity to move in safe and healthy ways. It’s a sad reality that in 2017, people walking and cycling accounted for almost a third (32%) of deaths on Britain’s roads despite only making up a small proportion of miles travelled.[2] This needs to change and we have the tools to do it.

The Government’s new Road Safety Action Plan demonstrates that politicians are taking note and realise the need to improve road safety further. Although the Government hasn’t fully committed to a safe systems approach, there are encouraging signs that it is considering new measures to reduce death and serious injury on our roads. For instance, a Graduated Driver Licencing System could make our new drivers safer.

We can build on this momentum throughout UK Road Safety Week 2019 (18-24 November). We are encouraging the road safety community to come together, step up and play a part in championing these design-led solutions to create streets that are safe and healthy for everyone. Every day.

UK Road Safety Week is a collective effort and we want as many individuals, communities and organisations to take part and run grassroot activities. So, whether you’re a teacher wanting to engage the next generation, an employer responsible for the welfare of your staff, or an emergency service professional who witnesses the daily tragedies on our roads, register here for your free electronic action pack. Together we can all Step Up for Safe Streets.

[1] Reported Road Casualties Annual Report 2017, DfT, 2018

[2] ibid

Sam Nahk

Sam Nahk

Senior public affairs officer, Brake