Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Cutting back on road safety spending criticised

Cutting back on road safety spending is a “false economy”, a report from the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) has said.

Achieving casualty-reduction targets by 2020 will save 2,500 lives and save the economy more than £4bn, the IAM said.

“These staggering figures prove conclusively that investing in saving lives on the roads saves the country money, so funding being taken away from this area is a false economy,” said IAM policy and research director Neil Greig.

The report, entitled Deaths and Injuries on Britain’s Roads, showed that in 2009 the UK was number one in the world road safety league table of safest roads, having been sixth in 2007 and fourth in 2008.

In the EU, the UK has half the road death rates of Austria, Belgium, Portugal and Luxembourg.

The IAM said each fatal accident cost the UK economy £1.8M in lost output, health care, pain and suffering.

Greig said: “Meeting our casualty reduction targets has meant that deaths on Britain’s roads have halved over the past 20 years with 31,000 deaths avoided and savings to the economy of around 50 billion.

“The IAM calculates that achieving similar targets for road deaths by 2020 would save society 2,500 lives and the economy over £4bn.”

He said it was important for public bodies to compensate for any cutbacks in funding for road safety.

Greig urged public bodies “to focus on the benefits to all road users and to the economy of investing in road safety education and awareness, training for younger drivers and riders, and targeted safety improvements to roads.”

The IAM report showed rural roads were still the most dangerous in the UK, accounting for two-thirds of fatal and serious casualties.

Despite falling casualty rates, young drivers were still the most at-risk category. Greig said: “With changes to the theory and practical parts of the driving test under way, and an ever-increasing focus on the risks faced by younger drivers, we hope that this number will continue to fall.”

Road safety minister Mike Penning said: “We are committed to further improving road safety and fully appreciate the economic as well as personal benefits this can bring.

“That is why we have taken steps to develop drug-screening technology to make it easier for the police to prosecute drug drivers and, as the IAM recognise, have made improvements to the driving test.”

He went on: “The importance of tackling the country’s deficit means that we have had to make tough decisions in all areas of our spending. However, we have also removed ring-fencing from local authority grants so that councils are able to set their own priorities.

“We would expect that road safety would remain a priority for local communities and that local spending would reflect that.”

Readers' comments (1)

  • While the IAM gives the cost to the country of each life lost they dont detail the expenditure required to achieve this saving. Cars and roads have become so safe that many people can walk away from serious looking accidents allowing other drivers to assume that they do not need to bother about driving safely.
    Education and removal of safety measures in cars will have a greater effect for less expenditure.
    A steel spike in the centre of the steering wheel would concentrate the minds of drivers on driving safely, and remove those who didnt.
    In this county a few years ago a driver was killed when he drove into a tree. There were demands for removal of the dangerous tree, but no critism of the driver for not driving safely.
    The country cant afford to wrap everyone in cotton wool, nor should it.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.