Scottish LAs among the best performing

The Road Safety Foundation is calling for the formation of a Highway Standards and Safety Board – in line with that already in place for rail – to provide expertise and guidance on behalf of the Department for Transport (DfT) to local authorities, sub-national transport bodies and Highways England.
This is one of a series of recommendations in a report* out today from the Road Safety Foundation (RSF).
A survey of 30 local authorities (LAs) found that road safety governance was generally weak and most of the limited funding comes from the LA’s own budget. The loss of the central government road safety grant has resulted in cut-backs to education, training and publicity activities and school crossing patrols. Many casualty reduction partnerships have come to an end and the number and scale of engineering interventions on many collision-affected routes have been reduced or stopped. LAs are concerned that such cuts may prevent them fulfilling their statutory road safety duties.
Findings from the report:

  • The Safer Roads Fund provided – via an innovative approach – access to capital sums to enable 30 LAs to tackle England’s 50 highest risk roads.
  • Working alongside the RSF, this fund enabled LAs to develop sound business cases for road safety investment, demonstrating high returns on capital spend on road safety improvements.
  • In the LAs surveyed, governance was relatively weak with little by the way of a vision, strategy and action plan to direct activity, and few casualty reduction targets.
  • The statutory framework that requires highway authorities to deliver safety is weak compared with modern health and safety or product liability legislation.
  • There were no Scottish LAs in the worst performing list and Scottish LAs dominated the best performing list. There has been a significant reduction in the number of deaths and seriously injuries in Scottish LAs over the last decade in line with continued use of formal casualty reduction targets and the establishment of multi-agency partnerships specifically tasked with achieving them.

The report also calls for a permanent Safer Roads Fund following the successful innovation in which £100m was estimated to deliver one of the highest economic returns seen within the entire national transport portfolio.
This permanent Safer Roads Fund could either be a distinct sub-fund of the £29bn National Roads Fund being financed through Vehicle Excise Duty; or an insurance based fund, receiving a component of Insurance Premium Tax directly.
Commenting on the report, Kate Fuller, Acting Executive Director of the Road Safety Foundation says: “Those responsible for highways have a personal liability in law to avoid very small risks to road workers which is substantially greater than their legal obligations to the public. In comparison, vehicle manufacturers face catastrophic financial consequences for vehicle safety defects, and airport operators would not consider for a moment that a small increase in crashes was a permissible trade-off for measures that would ease airport congestion.
“What comes across loud and clear from the survey is the huge variety of knowledge and expertise across LAs, ranging from the highly skilled to those which need all the help they can get. A Highway Standards and Safety Board, made up of those with the most to offer, could be critical to providing guidelines so badly needed to make local authority roads as safe as strategic roads.”
The Foundation hopes to take these proposals to the next stage, consulting on the potential models with various stakeholders through interviews and engagement with LA personnel, the Project Review Panel, DfT, Highways England and Sub-national Transport Bodies, the Office of Rail and Road, the National Infrastructure Commission and the Rail Standards and Safety Board.
Notes to editors
* The report, Assessment of the Sustainability of Road Safety Engineering in Local Government and Exploration of Potential Delivery Methods is funded by the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund.
An executive summary is available here:
The full report is available here:
Useful references:
This report comes just a week after publication of an annual report How Safe Are You on Britain’s Main Road Networks?” from the Road Safety Foundation and Ageas Insurance launched in the House of Lords.
It found that analysis of the measurements and targets in place among the authorities that manage the roads shows a patchwork approach to tackling death and serious injury. Just one authority – Highways England – has a specific commitment relating to the measurable safety performance of its road infrastructure.
Evidence suggests that countries achieve better casualty reduction when they adopt formal targets to coordinate action. Highways England is the only authority to target both the number of deaths and serious injuries and the star rating of its network.
The report recognised the significant improvement in Scotland (7% reduction in deaths and serious injuries). Scotland has national casualty reduction targets adopted by the Scottish Government in partnership with all stakeholders. In 2017, Scotland’s performance on its main roads helped its national fatality rate per million population to fall to 27 and so, for the first time, below that of England (28).  The per capita rate for Wales was 33.


Fatality reduction target

Long term vision

English Strategic Road Network (SRN)

40% reduction in killed or seriously injured, against the 2005-09 average baseline by 2020.
By 2020, 90% of travel will be on 3-star roads or above

Close as possible to zero harm by 2040

English Major Road Network (MRN)



English non-MRN local roads excluding TLRN

A few local authorities have adopted a casualty reduction target

A few local authorities have started to move towards Safe Systems/Vision Zero

Transport for London (TLRN)

65% fewer killed or seriously injured than 2005-09 baseline by 2022

By 2041 all fatal and serious injuries will be eliminated

Scottish strategic

40% reduction from 2010 baseline by 2020

A steady reduction in the numbers of those killed and those seriously injured, with the ultimate vision of a future where no-one is killed on Scotland’s roads, and the injury rate is much reduced (timescale not specified)

Scottish local

Typically local authorities have adopted the national casualty reduction target of 40% reduction from 2010 baseline by 2020

Welsh strategic

40% reduction from 2004-08 baseline (844 KSIs) by 2020

Reaffirmed commitment to vision zero (timescale not specified)

Welsh local

There are national casualty reduction targets (the same as those for strategic roads) that have been adopted by the Welsh Local Government Association; the extent to which these are adopted at the local level is unknown

Reaffirmed commitment to vision zero (timescale not specified)

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