Tom Blenkinsop said today (18th July 2012) that he felt there was a ‘clear link’ between an increase in road accidents and deaths and government cuts and agreed with leading transport experts that ‘there needed to be stronger leadership from Government to see that this trend does not continue’.
This followed the release of a House of Commons Transport Committee report which highlighted that 2011 saw the first increase in road fatalities since 2003, with 1,901 people killed on the roads. This has led the Committee to argue that ‘Government should give reassurances that this does not mark the beginning of a worrying trend in road deaths”.
“These figures hide the sheer trauma families hit by the deaths of loved ones. The government appear to ignore this. I agree with leading transport organisation, SUSTRANS, a group that has done a lot of work in this area, that – in the words of their Chief Executive Malcolm Shepherd – ‘The statistics on road safety released just a few weeks ago have shown an alarming rise in serious injuries among the most vulnerable people on our roads. If the Government is serious about making our roads safer it must show clear leadership.’
“What is worse is that, to my mind, Government cuts since the coalition took power in 2010 have helped to bring this about. We have to remember that the recession has led to an average drop in peak time commuting traffic across the country and an overall decrease in commercial traffic, yet we have more accidents.
“We must reverse some of the cuts to public services that help to make our roads safer. Local councils, responsible for both highway upkeep and road safety schemes, have had their capital budgets slashed, meaning that the level of highway maintenance is dropping and fewer safety schemes being implemented.
“We also need to halt Police cuts. Cuts to front line policing mean that police chiefs have to concentrate on crime fighting – and this can impact on the cash for highway patrols. As AA president Edmund King has said today ‘this report highlights the need for leadership, yet quotes the Association of Chief Police Officers as saying that road safety is not part of their strategic policing requirements and hence chief constables ‘will not necessarily look at road policing because there are no national targets’.
“Put simply, reducing a police presence on our roads mean that there is a perverse incentive for some drivers to take more risks, and also leads to a position where there is less ability to deter the drunk, drugged, or simply dangerous drivers.
“The coalition must take heed of this report. It shows the direct link between their policies and accidents on the highways of Great Britain.”