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New action promised to make roads safer following adoption of refreshed strategy

Published: Sunday 17 Sep 2023

Measures to improve road safety across the region, including enhanced average speed camera enforcement and a crackdown on mobile phone use while driving, are to be rolled out following the adoption of a new region wide strategy.

The Refreshed Regional Road Safety Strategy 2023-2030 has been drawn up in consultation with a range of partners including local authorities and the emergency services and agreed by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Board.

The partners, who form the West Midlands Road Safety Partnership, set out the long-term ambition to reach a point where nobody is killed or seriously injured on the region’s roads – known as ‘Vision Zero’.

On the road to this is an interim target has been set to reduce the numbers of killed and seriously injured casualties by 50% by 2030. The partnership has committed to work together and take collective responsibility for achieving this important target using an approach combining street design, enforcement and education.

The Strategy is issued following a summer in which road safety has leapt to the top of the regional agenda following a series of fatalities and incidents of violent and anti-social driving. This has mobilised a community-led campaign in high-risk locations and widespread activity by West Midlands Police, supported by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and local authorities to crack down on dangerous driving.

The new strategy updates the previous 2019 strategy; since that launch there has been a 16% reduction in serious or fatal collisions, which as well as preserving life and limb has reduced the annual cost to society by £25 million.

The Partnership is made up of the WMCA, its seven member councils, West Midlands Police, Office of Police and Crime Commissioner, West Midlands Fire Service, Motor Insurers’ Bureau, National Highways, RoadPeace, Road Safety Foundation, RoSPA, and Department of Health and Social Care. It is drawing up an evidence-based action plan to achieve the targets.

Actions currently in the pipeline include:

  • Enhancement of average speed camera enforcement – including increasing the use of speed awareness courses to educate motorists.
  • More use of AI systems to identify motorists caught on camera using their mobile phones while driving or not wearing a seatbelt. This will complement an overhaul of West Midlands Police’s third party reporting system to increase enforcement action.
  • Reductions in vehicle speeds, including through lower posted speed limits.
  • Further rollout of the Fasten Your Future campaign which targeted younger drivers in Birmingham who were found less likely to wear a seatbelt.

Road safety is also integral to the design and development of transport infrastructure. TfWM, which is part of the WMCA, is already investing tens of millions of pounds in safe cycle routes – such as the Binley Cycleway in Coventry and the A4123 in the Black Country. The region’s CRSTS settlement provides an advantage to the region to redevelop its transport infrastructure at scale, improving road safety in the process.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA Chair, said: “It’s imperative that we continue our efforts to improve safety on our roads and this strategy sets out our collective ambition to do just that.

“We’re stating here that even one life lost is one too many although we also recognise that this is a challenging task hence why we’re setting incremental targets to guide us along the way. Key to this is not only targeting issues as they arise, but also designing our roads and networks to reduce risk from the outset. That’s why we’re developing new safe cycle routes, boosting public transport priority arrangements and ensuring safer junctions.

“Safer roads relieve pressure on our emergency services, enhance our environment and foster wellbeing.

“With this strategy as the foundation, we now need to translate ambition into tangible action - taking further steps to reduce speeding and dangerous driving. Together, we can and will make our roads safer for all users whether they’re in a car or lorry, on a bike or on foot.”

Simon Foster, Police and Crime Commissioner and Chair of the Road Safety Strategic Group said: “Preventing, tackling and reducing crime and ASB and the number of people tragically and avoidably killed and seriously injured on our roads is a top priority.

“The Refreshed Regional Road Safety Strategy 2023-2030, is part of the collaborative commitment of partners to ensure safety on our roads for everyone, including pedestrians, cyclists and vehicle users. Safety on our roads is everyone’s responsibility.

“I am holding West Midlands Police to account, to prevent, tackle and reduce crime and anti-social behaviour on our roads. The force has agreed to crackdown on rule breakers on our roads, set up two new police teams to bring dangerous drivers to justice and make it easier for people to report dangerous driving. Keeping people safe on our roads is a top priority.”

Cllr Mike Bird, WMCA portfolio holder for transport and leader of Walsall Council said: “We are putting unprecedented investment in our region’s transport networks from new tram extensions to new cycle routes and this strategy confirms that road safety will play a crucial role in the design of this infrastructure.

“We are determined to cut the numbers of casualties on our roads.”

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