Autoblog asks what can be done to improve road safety?

As the coalition government slashes budgets, it's clear many services are going to suffer - and speed cameras are one victim.

As we've reported, the debate about whether speed cameras save lives or not is ongoing, but instead of pouring fuel on the fire Autoblog decided to open the floor to the experts.

We asked leading road safety organisations for an answer to the following: In light of government cuts, what do you think can be done to improve road safety? Here's what they had to say.

Professor Stephen Glaister, RAC Foundation

Saving lives on the roads does not just prevent human misery but, given that road accidents cost the economy some £18bn each year, it also makes financial sense. Many road safety projects deliver fantastic returns for relatively little outlay. Research for the RAC Foundation suggests speed cameras do significant good, but they are only one of the weapons we need to fight the battle. For example, road-engineering schemes can significantly reduce accidents, especially if properly targeted.

Amy Aeron-Thomas, RoadPeace

One key action would be to adopt a 20mph default speed limit in built-up areas. This is needed not just to reduce potential impact speeds but also to reduce the intimidation of traffic. Vehicle design has contributed much to casualty reduction but more can be done. Much of vehicle safety has focused on occupant protection and not on the safety of those outside the vehicles. We have also campaigned for cameras and sensors that detect movement in a lorry's blind spot to be mandatory. And while speed cameras might not be liked by a vocal minority of drivers, the evidence shows that they are cost-effective.

Brian Macdowall, Association of British Drivers

Budget cuts are an opportunity to tackle road safety from a new angle. We think cameras should only be used at genuine accident blackspots. Police traffic patrols should be increased to pre-speed camera levels with a mission to tackle dangerous and reckless driving, backed up by effective punishments. Motorway speed limits should be increased to 80mph to reflect reality and 20mph limits only allowed if they get government approval. And we think there should be incentives for drivers to update their skills behind the wheel, possibly in the form of reduced insurance premiums.

Andrew Howard, The AA

Government cuts will be a challenge. Road safety has to respond by sticking to the proven agenda, and doing what we know works – designing cars and roads to limit the consequences of collisions. Concentrating on tackling the known problems: drink and drug driving, excessive speed, distracted driving and extreme, show-off driving will also help. Road maintenance and pothole filling, salting and gritting at the right time all have a role to play in road safety too.

Caroline Holmes, Institute of Advanced Motorists

With the cuts in funding leading to reduced money for road safety, it is a worry that the progress made so far in making the UK's roads the safest in the world might be affected. We think it's important drivers get more training after passing their test and continue to improve those skills throughout their life.

Clare Simpson, RoadSafe

Where better than to start at home? There is a great role for parents (and siblings) to take in improving young driver safety, all with no cost to the taxpayer and very little expense to the family. Seventeen to 24 year olds are the highest risk age group on our roads. Driver behaviour and attitude tends to be a root cause of the crashes they are involved in. Research shows their driving is influenced from an early age by their parents – this means, by being a good role model and taking their teens out for practice when they are learning to drive, parents can help improve road safety.

Duncan Vernon, Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

We understand that road safety cannot be completely protected from the cuts and advise that, when local authorities are setting their budgets, they should prioritise long-term and sustainable road safety interventions that make a difference. To help in the decision-making process, we are promoting the importance of road safety officers evaluating the work they do. Being able to demonstrate the effectiveness of an intervention helps set priorities for spending.

But who's right? Road safety is all a matter of opinion – it's very hard to tell what works when it comes to cutting deaths and serious injuries. But what if you were in charge? Would you cut cameras and put more police on the road or increase the number of mobile traps to catch more motorists out? Let us know your ideas by posting your comments below.

Related links

Read Full Story