UK's Department for Transport

Department for Transport releases a road safety action plan to protect road users, young and old

Despite criticisms of the proposed plan not immediately committing to any hard and fast rules, it does present a front where the Department for Transport appears to be making all the right noises.

The presentation of their new road safety statement demonstrates that they’re looking into some serious factors when it comes to taking modern road safety seriously.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling announced at the release of the new ‘A Lifetime of Road Safety’ strategy:

“The UK has some of the safest roads in the world, but we are not complacent and continue to look at how we can make them safer.”

Seatbelt use, dash cam culture, drink and drug driving and digital distractions—74 actions to bolster positive and lasting change

This latest road safety campaign addresses all manner or road safety issues and how it plans to combat accepting this change of how we treat road safety into our culture. The 2-year action plan suggests it could help create a lifetime of change.

Highlights include:

  • Greater awareness for young passengers and pedestrians
  • Higher fines and penalty points for failing to wear a seatbelt
  • Dash cam and mobile phone camera evidence to be used as police evidence
  • The introduction of graduated driving licences for new drivers
  • A rural road committee
  • Improved practices for older road users
  • 10-year-old tyres banned from buses, coaches and lorries

Driving in the digital era—limiting the problems and promoting the solutions

A nation of screen zombies…

Far too many drivers and pedestrians are at risk in the digital era through distractions caused by mobile phones. Whether driving or carelessly stepping out into traffic, being glued to our screens is responsible for a vast number of accidents, and with the most horrifying consequences. The initiative is focussed on reducing mobile phone users causing accidents, whether they’re driving the car or not.

…or self-policing public digital detectives?

The DfT calls it ‘digital enforcement’.

Camera footage can provide a mass of evidence when it comes to reckless and careless driving. Almost everyone in the country has the means to collect evidence via the phone ever-glued to their hands, as well as the rise of dash cam usage.

The government have outlined their support of initiatives such as the National Dash Cam Portal and Operation Snap to help prosecute guilty drivers.

The National Dash Cam Portal provides a web-based platform where the public can submit footage, and Operation Snap was devised in response to the public’s request for better policing of traffic offences.

Rolled out across Wales in 2017, Operation Snap proved successful as a platform for digital media provided directly from the public. Subsequently, it has been introduced throughout a number of police forces in England. It looks like with the successes found so far, more are sure to follow.

So, look out drivers, it’s not just big brother who’s watching you anymore. It’s your little brother too.

Could Alcolock implementation help with high-risk drink driving offenders?

The new proposals also include one of fitting breathalysers that activate a car’s starting system in the vehicles of previously convicted drink-drivers.

Drink driving is still a force within British motoring. With penalties including imprisonment, unlimited fines and bans; could this simple solution provide a means to a massive reduction in alcohol-fuelled accidents?

The EU is already suggesting all vehicles built after May 2022 should be fitted with alcohol detectors and anti-speeding alert devices. If we’re really serious about road safety, surely, these should be no-brainers?

Is failing to wear your seatbelt really worth a driving ban?

Surprisingly, for such a simple thing, 27% of fatal collisions in 2017 involved drivers or passengers who weren’t wearing a seatbelt.

Even more worryingly, that figure showed a 7% jump from the previous year. You’d hope that these statistics should be falling—not getting worse.

With a major part of the plan looking into how they can reduce fatalities, stricter punishments are being suggested in this area. The allocation of penalty points to drivers caught not wearing their seatbelts could be added to the already existing fines.

‘Tens of thousands of drivers and passengers are failing to ‘belt-up’ each day’

RAC Foundation research director Steve Gooding highlighted that it wasn’t just the drivers and passengers affected by the careless decision to fail to wear their seatbelt.

“The direct effect of non-compliance might be felt by the vehicle occupant themselves in the event of a crash, but ultimately the emergency services are left to deal with the roadside consequences and the taxpayer foots the bills.”

With drivers being banned when they receive more than 12 points within a 3-year period, regular rule-breakers could then lose their licenses simply by not buckling up. Imagine the impact that having your license taken away would cause on your everyday life?

New drivers—be prepared for a selection of restrictions after passing your test

Graduated driving licences

The DfT suggests methods of restricting new drivers from particularly hazardous areas of driving until they’re suitably experienced and better prepared for them.

Improved instruction and additional experience

After digging into research studies from around the world, the DfT have seen that more practice makes better new drivers. So when it comes to rural driving, driving at night and other areas of higher-risk young driver accidents, then upping the practice times spent on them is one of the ways they hope to drive the figures down.

It’s not just clamping down on younger drivers—it’s road safety policy designed for everyone

The DfT road safety campaign: A Lifetime of Road Safety, is for the youngest passenger to the oldest driver

The document includes sections aimed at protecting drivers, passengers, road users and pedestrians, young and old:

  • Children
    As passengers and pedestrians, introducing areas of education and awareness where it’s most needed
     
  • Young adults
    The high-risk area of new drivers. Continual development of driver learning and the driving test, to ensure that new drivers have more experience in areas where they’re the most at risk after qualifying

  • Adults
    Key areas include breath testing, drink and drug driving, the decline in seat belt use and the distractions associated with mobile phone use

  • Older adults
    Support of advice and education to the elderly and disabled motorists, failing vision and medical issues and mobility concerns.

Expect further road safety legislation in times where the rules of the road will be ever-changing

With the impact of technology in our day-to-day lives, on the road and in our cars, it’s hard to imagine that the rules and regulations designed to protect us won’t be an ever-evolving process.

Many of the new technologies we will be using should make our lives safer without question. Whether these elements can be instigated to take our choices to use them or not out of the equation is another matter.