Safety on our roads is an issue which concerns many organisations, as well as road users themselves. The Highways Agency, local authorities and police forces throughout the country are committed to long term casualty reduction targets, in support of the Government’s strategy paper ‘Tomorrow’s Roads – Safer for Everyone’. In Wiltshire and Swindon, key organisations with a role to play in casualty reduction have come together to form the Wiltshire and Swindon Road Safety Partnership. The partnership has representation from Wiltshire County Council, Swindon Borough Council, the Wiltshire Constabulary and the Highways Agency.
The objectives of the partnership are to improve road safety in Wiltshire and Swindon and reduce the number of casualties in accordance with national targets set for 2010. These are
- A 40% reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured in road collisions and
- A 50% reduction in the number of children killed or seriously injured.
The targets are to be achieved by:
- sharing information on road safety issues
- identifying road safety problems
- implementing solutions where road safety problems are identified
- Improving road user behaviour by the use of engineering, educational and enforcement initiatives
In order to meet the 10 year targets, the number of killed or seriously injured (KSI) on roads in Wiltshire and Swindon must reduce from an average of 486 a year during the baseline period of 1994-1988 to 292 a year by 1st January 2010.
The causes of road traffic collisions are complex, and the Partnership organisations tackle them in a variety of ways. This document sets out the Partnership’s approach to one of the principal causes of injury collisions: excess and inappropriate speed.
The Need for a Speed Management Strategy
Road safety can be tackled on a number of fronts, but initiatives generally fall into one of the ‘three Es’: education, engineering and enforcement. Many of these approaches require joint working, and at strategic level this is overseen by the Wiltshire and Swindon Road Safety Partnership. Both Wiltshire County Council and Swindon Borough Council have agreed joint approaches to road safety in partnership with Wiltshire Constabulary.
The long term aim of the Partnership is to influence driver behaviour in such a way that the need for enforcement work is minimised. In the meantime an agreed approach to speed management is a necessary part of the wider road safety agenda.
It is estimated that excess or inappropriate speed is a contributory factor in approximately a third of all road traffic collisions. The problem is not confined just to the few ‘top end’ speeders.
Government research shows:
- Accident frequency rises disproportionately with increasing speed; for example a 10% increase in average speed will lead to an increase of more than 10% in collisions
- Injury frequency also rises disproportionately with speed. At 30 mph a belted front seat passenger is 3 times more likely to suffer serious injury on impact than at 20 mph. At 40 mph the likelihood is 5 times greater.
- Around two-thirds of all accidents where people are killed or injured happen on roads where the speed limit is 30mph or less
- In the case of pedestrians, 40% who are struck at speeds below 20 mph sustain serious injuries, but this rises to 90% at speeds up to 30 mph
- An average family car travelling at 35mph will need an extra 21 feet (six metres) to stop than one travelling at 30mph
- If you hit a cyclist or pedestrian at 35mph rather than 30mph, the force of the impact increases by more than a third
- Excess speed (above the speed limit) is a frequent contributory factor, but inappropriate speed (too fast for the local road conditions) is just as important
- A change in the mean speed of traffic will affect collision risk and each reduction in mean speed of 1mph will reduce collision frequency by about 5%. Slowing the fastest drivers will yield the greatest safety benefits. If the average speed of faster drivers goes up by 1 mph, collisions go up by 19%
- It is not safer to drive faster at night. Casualty rates are double that during daylight hours due to higher speeds because of less traffic, higher alcohol consumption, tiredness and darkness
- Every driver can make a difference just by slowing down a few miles per hour and observing speed limits