I believe that any death or serious injury on our roads should be avoidable.
Many people in Wales will, at some point, have been affected directly or indirectly by a road traffic collision. Thankfully, the majority of these collisions do not result in serious and fatal injuries but sadly a significant number do.
Last year on average three people were seriously injured everyday and more than two people were killed each week on Welsh roads. This figure is unacceptable and I want to reduce these figures in order to prevent the tragic and avoidable loss of life and serious injury that we see on our roads each year.
It is worth recognising the significant progress that has been made in road safety in recent years, with the number of people killed and seriously injured falling considerably. The Welsh Government set targets for casualty reduction between 2000 and 2010, which were achieved and exceeded. However, we must avoid complacency and recognise that there is significant scope for further improvements.
That is why the Welsh Government has provided over £120m of grant funding for road safety interventions since 2000, and we will continue to support road safety through education, engineering and enforcement.
Some groups of people are more likely to be involved in serious and fatal collisions than others. There is evidence that the incidence of collisions is higher in deprived areas. It cannot be acceptable for child pedestrians from the lowest socio-economic groups to be over four times more likely to be killed or seriously injured on the roads. Addressing these inequalities is a key way that transport can contribute to tackling poverty and is why, for example, we have built tackling poverty criteria into the project selection criteria Safe Routes in Communities.
I am currently consulting on a draft Road Safety Delivery Plan which sets out how, with the help of our partners, we can target action on safety in the right areas, in the right way, to reduce deaths and serious injuries.
My vision is for a continued reduction in the number of people killed and seriously injured on Welsh roads, with the ultimate goal of no fatalities in the future.
It may be considered unrealistic to envisage zero fatalities but it should be a government aspiration to tackle avoidable deaths such as those arising from road traffic collisions and do all that we can to avert them. We view this ambitious vision as an acknowledgement of this and want all key partners to share in and work towards making it a reality.
We need to set milestones that help us measure our progress towards our vision and we have proposed clear targets to see reductions in causalities by 2020. This includes a 40% reduction in the total number of people killed and seriously injured on Welsh roads by 2020, meaning 562 fewer killed and seriously injured casualties compared to the average figures for Wales between 2004-08.
We have also proposed specific targets for motorcyclists and young people because they are two of the most vulnerable groups of road users and we will not meet our overall objectives without addressing the disproportionate involvement of both motorcyclists and young people in collisions.
The Delivery Plan consultation highlights specific interventions for Welsh Government and for partners to deliver to address the issues affecting a range of vulnerable groups including motorcyclists, young drivers, older people, children and people who walk and cycle.
I recognise that the Welsh Government cannot achieve casualty reduction alone. We need all partners to work together, using their different resources and expertise, and adopting an integrated approach to road safety interventions – and that approach must focused on casualty reduction.
We can take pride in the fact that Welsh roads are amongst the safest in the world. The Road Safety Delivery Plan will be another step in the direction of further improving safety on our roads. But we must not rest, we must continue to make road safety a priority in Wales.