There doesn’t seem to be much that unites everyone in our country at present, but I think if we were to ask people if they wanted safer roads, fewer accidents and fewer fatalities, practically everyone would say ‘yes’.
Latest figures show nearly five people a day are killed in road traffic accidents, but collisions and road traffic accidents are not an inevitable fact of life and I don’t think they should be treated as if they are.
A recent report by the European Transport Safety Council has noted the slow progress made by the UK on reducing road deaths over the last nine years. In response, the House of Commons Transport Committee has launched an inquiry to see what can be done to improve this.
I have made a submission to this inquiry. I suggested two main areas where Government action can help improve things – in the sentencing of driving offenders and by making better use of road safety technology.
I wrote that the Government needs to make greater use of lengthy driving bans, both as a penalty and to protect the public. Speeding is the most common driving offence on UK roads and it accounts for around one-fifth of road fatalities, but it sometimes seems there’s little connection between drivers going at dangerously high speeds and if they even get a driving ban. I think it’s time we reviewed the length of driving bans which are given out. We also need more effective sentences for those causing death and serious injury by driving.
In terms of the need for the Government to make better use of road safety technology, I gave the examples of Intelligent Speed Adaption (ISA), alcohol interlocks, telematics devices and dash camera footage. ISA technology compares the local speed limit to the vehicle speed. It advises the driver when they’re exceeding the speed limit and can limit engine power when necessary to prevent the driver from speeding. ‘Alcohol interlocks’ are a type of breathalyser which the driver needs to blow into before the car will start. These are very commonly used for repeat drink-drive offenders in some other countries and I think they should be used more widely here. In addition, I suggested the Government looks seriously at the need for more widespread use of telematic devices (known as ‘black boxes’ to many of us) and public dash camera footage which could be a real help to the Police in investigating driving offences.
That’s a summary of my suggestions to this important inquiry. I would urge anyone reading this who is concerned about safety on our roads to take part in the inquiry too. The deadline is 18th April and details can be found at: https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/transport-committee/news-parliament-2017/road-safety-launch-17-19/