Stephen Hammond & Government plans to get tough on dangerous drivers

Monday 03 Jun 2013 | By Gosh Media

Tags: road-safety

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In a speech recently to the Westminster Briefing conference, Stephen Hammond MP, Road Safety Minister, outlined the government's actions and plans aimed at reducing road accidents through local decision making, tougher action against dangerous drivers and better education, especially for young drivers.

World-class record

Entitled 'Delivering road safety: what does the future hold?', the speech on 16 May saw Mr Hammond begin by pointing out that Britain has a world-class record on road safety, having the second lowest fatality rate in Europe. Today the number of people killed on Britain's roads is less than a quarter of the figure for 1966, when some 22 people a day lost their lives in this way. Considering that there are now twice as many vehicles on UK roads, Mr Hammond said that this was "excellent and sustained progress", adding that road fatalities are not merely statistics but "real lives cut short".

Localism

Mr Hammond went on to praise the government's record of supporting localism, saying: "…it is local communities, rather than Whitehall bureaucrats, who are best placed to design local road safety solutions to meet local road safety challenges. And that includes deciding where to focus their resources."
He added that the government is giving more than £1 billion to local councils to enable them to improve the transport infrastructure, including the design of better and safer roads. He added, "We have also given local authorities powers to set speed limits for the roads in their communities, making it easier for them to create 20 miles per hour roads and zones where appropriate." He also highlighted the newly launched road safety comparison site, which plots the performance of local authorities over the last seven years to give local residents a more accurate picture of the council's progress in reducing casualties.

Reckless drivers

He then turned his attention to enforcement, stating: "We know that a minority of reckless drivers are responsible for a large proportion of crashes. So both our marketing and enforcement strategies target these drivers." He said that the government was planning to create a new offence - from 2014 - of driving with a specified drug in the body above certain limits, with a new roadside drug test being devised. He also stated that the government was shortly to announce new measures to improve the enforcement of drink driving laws and possibly making careless driving a fixed penalty notice offence. There would be higher penalties for speeding, using a mobile 'phone while driving and not using seat belts.

More training

Stephen Hammond then talked about education, saying, "The better the education, the more we can help to enhance the safety of all road users. It can even prevent collisions and crashes from taking place in the first place." He praised the recent THINK! campaigns, calling them "hugely successful", but said that effective training needs to be provided, particularly for young drivers. "We've already updated the driving test so it better reflects conditions on the road network," he said, "but our forthcoming young drivers' green paper will consider a range of further proposals for reforming young driver training. These could include temporary restrictions once they have passed their test, or incentives for young drivers to continue training after passing their test."

In conclusion, Mr Hammond stated that road deaths are preventable tragedies but that the challenge was to keep "raising the bar" to find new and better ways of making Britain's roads safer.

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