Edwina Hart, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport
The Road Safety Framework for Wales was published in July 2013. It sets out the Welsh Government’s approach to road safety until 2020. A year on, it is timely to update Members on progress in implementing key actions in the Framework.
The Framework set a challenging target for a 40% reduction in the total number of people killed or seriously injured on Welsh roads by 2020. Two high risk groups were identified and specific targets set for a 25% reduction in the number of motorcyclists killed or seriously injured and a 40% reduction in the number of young people killed or seriously injured. All three targets were set against a 2004-08 baseline.
The road safety statistics for 2013 showed an overall decrease in the total number of road traffic collisions resulting in casualties. However, whilst slight injuries continue to decrease, the number of people being killed or seriously injured increased last year. Single year figures fluctuate and are not reliable indicators, but if this continued, it would mean that, the consequences of collisions are becoming more severe.
In 2013, the number of pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, killed or seriously injured exceeded those amongst car occupants. That means that in addition to the two high risk groups already identified, we also need to ensure we are protecting all vulnerable road users. I will consider the data and if appropriate identify further specific actions in relation to these groups.
So far this year, seventy people have been killed on the roads in Wales. And while this is very similar to the number at the same point last year, and the year before, any fatality on the road is a tragedy that we must seek to avoid.
I am clear that efforts must be stepped up to prevent or lesson the seriousness of road traffic collisions where possible. Welsh Government and our partners in local authorities and the emergency services are working together to achieve this. This includes undertaking a rigorous analysis of the data on collisions to highlight areas for action.
I have asked my officials to look at how we can strengthen our efforts on road safety and ensure that it is at the centre of our approach to transport. The Road Safety Framework for Wales made it clear that continued casualty reduction would require close working with our partners to achieve.
I regularly meet with both Local Authority Leaders and the Welsh Chief Constables and l recognise the importance of continued co-ordinated action to further improve safety on Welsh roads. I will continue to seek that expert input.
With the Police, I fund safety camera enforcement in Wales and increasingly the technology for speed enforcement will also be used to enforce seat belt use and identify illegal mobile phone use.
I have also refocused the All Wales Strategic Road Safety Group to ensure all Local Authorities are represented, along with our partners in the Emergency Services and third sector. Those meetings will focus on the data coming forward on collisions and seek the assistance of partners to identify the best course of action to take. Specific sub groups with a focus on young people and motorcyclists have also been established.
Local Authority leaders have provided me with updates on the road safety programmes they operate, which is giving a better picture of what is happening across Wales, so that we can start to identify good practice or gaps. Local authority leaders also provided details of work remaining to improve safety and access around schools and this information will help inform future work programmes.
I take the safety of our motorway and trunk road network very serious and I continue to deliver road safety engineering improvements on the trunk road network at locations where there is a high risk of serious collisions occurring.
I am very pleased to be working with the Office of the Children’s Commissioner Wales to identify the road safety issues of concern to children and young people who attend schools located on the trunk road and to be developing a programme of work to address these issues, which I will announce before Christmas.
I have provided Local Authorities with Road Safety Grant funding for both capital and revenue schemes in 2014/15. In setting the objectives for the grant I have been clear that resources must be targeted on actions that will reduce casualties. Capital funding was allocated on a competitive basis and only to schemes where there was a history of killed or seriously injured casualties. I am grateful to the Police and to RoSPA for supporting my Department in assessing the applications submitted which ensured that I had robust advice on which to make the grant awards.
I continue to require evaluation of the effectiveness of road safety schemes to ensure that funding is firmly focused on those initiatives that deliver casualty reduction. Reflecting this approach in the allocation of revenue funding, I specified four primary interventions against which funding would be considered. These interventions support the two high risk categories and children as vulnerable road users. These were:
- Motorcycle training
- Pass Plus Cymru
- National Standard Cycle Training
There is some variation in the way in which these programmes are delivered across Wales and, while some local tailoring may be appropriate in recognition of the nature of the road network and traffic in different parts of Wales, any such differences need clear justification in terms of impact on casualties. In order to ensure that we are not seeing variation for its own sake and to ensure that we can identify the programmes that have the most impact on casualty reduction, I have asked my officials to carry out a number of evaluations. We will be looking at Pass Plus Cymru, motorcycle training and training for older drivers in this financial year and the outcome of these assessments will inform which programmes are funded in future.
I was delighted to visit Porthcawl Primary School today to see the improvements that will be made through Safe Routes in Communities investment. This project and one at Tremains Primary School are additional projects that I have been able to add to the list of projects to be delivered under the Safe Routes in Communities grant scheme this year.
Road safety will continue to be a clear focus and I will update Members on progress.