Road safety groups react to UK Government plan

Published Tue, 22/12/2015 - 17:24

Learner drivers could be allowed to drive on the motorway for the first time under new government plans to be announced on 22 December. The scheme announced by the Department of Transport will see a £2m fund set up to improve driver education - which will include giving learner drivers the chance to practise on a motorway with an approved driving instructor before their test. The proposal also includes a £750,000 grant to police forces across the UK to tackle drug-driving and  £50m grant to support Bikeability training in schools over the next four years. In 2014, there was a four per cent increase in the number of deaths on Britain’s roads rising to 1,775 and the number of people severely injured rose five per cent to 22,807 people. One in five young drivers has an accident within six months of passing their test, according to the RAC.

However, road safety groups have pointed out the key opportunities they believe to have been missed by the Government. GEM Motoring Assist says it believes there is a missed opportunity for re-establishing a national road safety target, safeguarding young drivers and reducing the drink-drive limit. GEM chief executive David Williams MBE said: “We urge Government to bring back national targets. These provide the much-needed central focus for the efforts of road safety professionals across the country. We support the introduction of graduated licensing (GDL) for new drivers. January 2016 marks the third anniversary of the announcement of the Green Paper on GDL. In that time we estimate that 1,300 people will have been killed or seriously injured in young driver crashed that could have been prevented by a GDL system."

Alice Bailey, campaigns officer at Brake, said: “We know from our work supporting devastated road crash victims that every death and injury sends out shockwaves of pain and suffering. We also know from international research and experience that there is far more the government could and should do, to prevent these casualties and enable everyone to get around safely and sustainably. There is some important recognition in this Statement of what good practice in road safety looks like, and the fact that road safety is an issue central to public health and sustainability – and that by improving road safety we can make economic gains too. Yet we’re disappointed that the government has failed to include casualty reduction targets, an ambitious vision, or more decisive action on issues like young driver safety, pedestrian safety or drink driving, all of which remain desperately important.”