Austerity measures mean stricter spending by local councils. And a new report has revealed road safety has been the victim of tightening purse strings. So is driving a car now less safe?
According to the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), local councils slashed road safety budgets by 15% on average last year, the equivalent of £23m.
With local services as a whole cut by 6%, it’s clear road safety has been one area of sacrifice. But what constitutes road safety? Included under the banner are rehabilitation courses for motoring offenders, training and information for young drivers, safe routes to school schemes and school crossing patrols.
So how widespread is this cull of the much-loved lollipop lady or man? Well, the IAM contacted 152 councils and 81 responded. Of those, more than half cut their spending on road safety and traffic management by more than 10%.
The worst offender was London’s Camden Council, reducing its road safety spending by more than 70% (£4m). This is despite road casualties being up by 10% since 2006 and more than 100 people were killed or seriously injured on Camden roads in 2010.
So does this ultimately mean our cars are a less safe place to be? Not necessarily.
According to Department for Transport statistics, the number of people killed annually on Britain’s roads in 2010 was 1,857 – a 16% drop against 2009 numbers and the seventh consecutive annual fall (2011 figures due in June 2012).
But to what extent are these numbers affected by the improvements in car technology?
Rob Hull, Senior Cars Researcher at Which? magazine thinks more readily-available electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes, more standard airbags than ever, and new tech like auto-braking systems are all advances that are contributing to reducing road deaths globally.