Saturday, 5 September 2015

Tragic road safety figures show urgent need for action

Kent Green Party has called for an urgent rethink on road safety in light of another set of very poor statistics that shows an increase for a second consecutive year in the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads. An appalling 715 people were killed and serious injury in crashes on all roads in Kent and Medway, including those managed by Highways England, compared to 650 in 2013.

The party’s Kent County Council member, Martin Whybrow, says: "These tragic figures show that KCC's Casualty Reduction Strategy, which was introduced in 2013, fundamentally isn't working. It is far too narrow, with too much reliance on seemingly never-ending road awareness campaigns. We need to get serious about speed enforcement and KCC and Kent Police need to scrap their opposition to 20 mph zones in Kent. We are far behind many other counties in this.”

Nearly all of the Kent figures for 2014 are heading in the wrong direction, including those for pedestrians, cyclists, motor cyclists and children. KCC is on course to miss its 2020 casualty reduction targets by a wide margin.

"The line is basically, it is the road users' fault, as reflected in the press release that KCC has put out to accompany the figures,” says Councillor Whybrow. “KCC needs to do far more to help to reduce the likelihood of incidents and this means investment, creative road designs that take into account all users and support for reduced speed limits. I believe there is too much focus on reducing car journey times, to the detriment of proper road safety measures.”

Having spent the best part of two years to finally get a 20 mph limit on a road outside one of the local primary schools in his ward, Councillor Whybrow knows only too well the hurdles that need to be overcome. Tellingly, the majority of incidents are on 30 mph roads. All of the evidence shows that 20 mph zones are effective.

There is also a key role for central government, as contributing factors are likely to include cuts in police budgets and underinvestment in public transport, caused by the swingeing cuts.

"We need investment in dedicated cycle lanes and traffic calming measures, plus investment in public transport, not more lip-service, posters and leaflets. Moreover, we shouldn’t forget the hundreds of people that die in the county each year as a result of air pollution, with traffic a major contributor," he adds.

In 2014, there were a total of 4,618 collisions on Kent roads (excluding Medway). This includes motorways and trunk roads.

More details on the Kent road safety figures for 2014 can be found here:
 Published by Martin Whybrow on behalf of Kent Green Party.

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