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Government’s Road Safety Action Plan ‘a disappointing mixed bag’ which doesn’t go far enough, say IAM RoadSmart

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IAM RoadSmart has called the government’s Road Safety Statement announced today (19 July) ‘a mixed bag’ with welcome news on road policing, pedestrian distraction and seatbelts, but a worrying lack of detail on younger and older drivers or motorcyclists.

Today the government, as part of the statement, also confirmed a review of roads policing and traffic enforcement will be launched later this year.

The two-year review will involve looking at how roads policing currently works and its effectiveness, where improvements could be made or any gaps that could be filled, plus how the police and different agencies work together and share information.

IAM RoadSmart welcomes the focus on road policing. Mike Quinton, IAM RoadSmart Chief Executive Officer, said: “This is fantastic news as the lack of traffic officers is our members’ most common complaint. Creating new road safety laws and increasing penalties has little impact on safety unless they can be fully and rigorously implemented.”

The commitment to some form of Graduated Driving Licence is welcome (with extra restrictions on young drivers and a lower blood alcohol limit) but the lack of any timetable for implementation is worrying.

Mike said: “With young men under 25 being the biggest at-risk group when it comes to serious and fatal crashes and drink-driving, the promise of ‘more research’ is simply not enough.”

One-fifth of new drivers are involved in a crash during their first year behind the wheel.

Older drivers were also largely ignored in the review, with no concrete new proposals for the UK’s mature drivers. DVLA figures state that over 1 million drivers in the UK over 80 now hold a valid driving licence, and the number of drivers over 90 with a driving licence has now topped 100,000.

Mike added: “There is a policy and action vacuum here while the demographic time bomb ticks away. There really needs to be a consultation on raising the license renewal age to 75 and adding an eye test – these are absolute essentials.

“There also has to be a national debate on how we keep older drivers safe and independently mobile. For example, we would like to see voluntary assessments being promoted and prescribed by GPs.”

IAM RoadSmart is pleased to see that a Rural Road Users’ Advisory Panel is to be set up.  This must make improving driver and rider behaviour on rural roads a top priority. IAM RoadSmart has called for the inclusion of rural roads as part of the driving test, along with support for refreshing rural driving and riding skills.  

The continuation of THINK! education campaigns is also potentially good news for drivers and riders, but this promise must come with the funding to ensure these top-quality campaigns can be delivered effectively to the right audience.

Mike said: “What is totally missing is any reference to motorcycling despite this being one of the four key areas that the statement was supposed to address.  As a minimum we had hoped that the unique road design needs of bikers, access to all bus lanes for motorbikes and encouragement of skill refresher schemes such as those produced by IAM RoadSmart and BikeSafe, would have been announced.” 

He added with the rise in popularity of e-scooters, in-spite of their use being illegal on UK roads, there needs to be early action on regulation for training, and clarification and enforcement of the law.

Mike said: “While this review is very welcome and has at least tackled the need for a visible police presence to deter bad road behaviour, there are many areas that have not been fully addressed. It really is a disappointingly mixed bag that will struggle to put our crash statistics back on a downward track.”

He concluded: “We will keep pushing hard to make a difference for road safety in the UK and will not give up in campaigning for the initiatives that we believe will save lives on the road.” 

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