Well we all knew that there would be cut backs in Government spending following the recent election but it seems that something as important as road safety is going to be hit with a cut of £17.2m, despite the transport industry and normal road users chucking millions into the Whitehall pot.
Maybe, it’s the long term intention of the ConDem coalition to price us all off the roads anyway, and perhaps, if that’s the case this all makes sense, because if none of us use our roads, well they will be 100% safe, so perhaps this cut is preparing for that day.
The reduction is going to be achieved by lopping money off local authority capital grants and the decision is being criticised many road safety organisations with the cuts being referred to as a “false economy” and “desperately worrying”.
A new report by EuroRAP (the European Road Assessment Programme) urges national governments to “reduce the needless personal loss caused by crashes” and it would appear Mr Cameron clearly agrees with Nick on this one and even if their cuts fly in the face of all the recommendations, they are still going to be made.
EuroRAP inspects the roads around Europe and arrives at a safety rating for each country and top of the charts at the moment, with 85% of their road network rated as low risk is Sweden, whilst for the UK, the report shows just over half of Britain & Irelands roads (53%) have a low risk rating and I don’t know what you think, but that’s a fair bit behind Sweden, however to make you feel a little better compare our roads to those in Italy, where only 4% of the roads were considered as low risk (meaning 96% high risk and if you’ve ever driven in Italy, you will know why…..)
Scotlands roads are apparently twice as risky as those in England and Wales whilst in Ireland, its Northern Ireland that’s safer than Southern Ireland, although they are both less safe than the UK and I think this is beginning to sound like something Reggie Perrin might say! condemned
The Trans European Transport Networks are known as (TEN-T Roads) and EuroRAP say there are over 20,000 deaths a year on this network (which equates to around 5% of all of the people killed on European roads each year) and even setting aside the impact on the friends and families of these drivers, these 20,000 deaths are costing the European economy more than £8 Billion pounds a year (makes the £17.2 million of cuts look silly doesn’t it)
EuroRAP Risk Map and rate about 25,400 miles of the TEN-T Network, across 15 countries within Europe (so its not every country) and it’s claimed that 15% of these roads which equates to around 3,728 miles have an unacceptably high level of risk, whilst 50% of the single carriageway roads are also rated as high risk leaving us only 31% (or less than a third), of Europen Roads rated as providing the best possible safety, which again, makes you question why we are cutting budgets in this area, particularly as income from roads and transport is such a big money earner for the treasury, where its not possible to say “the money isn’t there”..
So let’s just look at this again, almost half of the UK and Irelands roads don’t meet the EuroRAP standards for best possible safety conditions and that’s frightening, when Sweden can achieve safe standards on 85% of their roads it clearly demonstrates that 50% in the UK just isn’t good enough.
Road safety isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity, it’s a life saver and this report provides challenges for the new Government to bring UK roads up to the safety standards achieved by countries such as Sweden and as John Dawson, the Chairman of EuroRAP said “Safe road design is paramount in reducing casualties on our roads”. If these cuts go ahead, its going to allow avoidable accidents to happen, it’s going to “ConDem” so many of us to road accidents we shouldn’t be involved in.