IAM Roadsmart launches road safety manifesto

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A LOWER drink-drive limit in England and Wales and a compulsory 12-month minimum learning period for new drivers are among plans set out in a “road safety manifesto” announced recently.

Raising the driving licence renewal age and practical solutions to the growing problem of distraction at the wheel are also among the key points set out by IAM Roadsmart.

The UK’s biggest road safety charity has created its own manifesto designed to drive down the number of people killed or seriously injured every year on Britain’s roads.

It points to the 1,730 fatalities on the roads in 2015 and the fact that this figure has changed little from the previous four years as evidence that progress on road safety has stagnated and needs fresh impetus.

Among its key proposals are a minimum period of learning for new drivers. Their manifesto says that experience is “the key to a safe driving career” and calls for new motorists to receive training for at least a year before being allowed to sit their test. Previously, IAM Roadsmart had proposed this approach as part of a graduated driving licence and the manifesto also calls for changes to post-driving test rules to improve driving skills.

It is also calling for England and Wales to follow the examples of Scotland and Northern Ireland and reduce the drink-drive limit from its current 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. In 2015 1,380 people were killed or seriously injured in accidents involving a driver over the drink-drive limit.

Drivers currently have to apply to renew their licence when they turn 70. Under the IAM manifesto, this age would be raised to 75 but would require applicants to pass a compulsory eye test.

It also proposes that doctors should be encouraged to “prescribe” driving reviews for older motorists if they feel their health may be affected their abilities behind the wheel.

The proposals are part of an overarching call for road safety professionals, employers, authorities and vehicle manufacturers to work together to improve road safety standards. Other points call for better government procurement to speed up the use of vehicles with advanced safety features; efforts to address the distraction caused by mobile devices and the protection of road maintenance budgets to ensure roads are safe to use.

Sarah Sillars, IAM RoadSmart chief executive officer, said: “The UK has one of the best road safety records in Europe, but still 1,730 people a year are killed.

“We believe by working together with government and the road safety ‘industry’ we can deliver a step change in road safety and significantly reduce the fatalities and injuries which occur daily on our roads.”

The manifesto in full

1. Partnership is the best way to get our accident figures heading downwards again. With widespread support the ‘Road Safety Industry Consortium’ can help reduce the number of people killed and seriously injured on our road.
2. Driver distraction is now a top priority safety issue. We want legislators, car makers, social media and smartphone companies to work with road users on practical solutions.
3. Support more research on the transition to driverless cars and on the education and training challenges their introduction will bring.
4. Support the raising the licence renewal age to 75 with a compulsory eye test. Family doctors should be encouraged to ‘prescribe’ driving reviews for older drivers.
5. Believe road safety at work is a critical health and safety issue that requires higher priority at the Health and Safety Executive and should be at the core of good corporate governance for every employer.
6. DEFRA to implement cross-government procurement rules which accelerates the uptake of safe new vehicles with features such as autonomous braking. Public and private sector companies should only issue contracts to firms with driver risk management policies in place.
7. Promote motorcycling as a safe mode of transport that can help solve congestion and pollution problems
8. Believes experience is the key to a safe driving career and supports a 12 month minimum learning period for new drivers.
9. Believes a reduction in the drink-drive limit in England and Wales will save lives
10. Encourage all highway authorities to aim towards a minimum ‘three star’ risk rating on their ‘A’ roads.
11. Local councils and central government to protect long-term funding that will eradicate the road maintenance backlog.
12. Seeks a Brexit deal that maintains the UK’s exemplary road safety record and does not add additional burdens to drivers and riders visiting the EU.

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