Government letting unsafe drivers “off the hook”

Review of road traffic offences and penalties still missing from Government's Road Safety proposals
Sam Jones's picture

Government letting unsafe drivers “off the hook”

CTC, the national cycling charity, expressed concern that the Government’s new Road Safety Statement issued yesterday (21 December) effectively lets unsafe drivers “off the hook”.

CTC is concerned the Road Safety Statement fails to strengthen road traffic enforcement or make progress on a long-promised review of road traffic offences and penalties. If anything, the statement proposes to further weaken the penalties for first-time mobile phone offenders.

The former Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, announced in May 2014 that the Government intended to review road traffic offences and penalties in the ensuing months. At the time, CTC saw this as a crucial opportunity to prevent driving, which has clearly caused danger, from being dismissed as mere carelessness - a clear aim of CTC's Road Justice campaign. An example this month was the case of driver Derek Edward Chenney who killed Headteacher Paul Miller, having failed to see him for 7 seconds as he cycled home after work in Dorset.

Despite the importance of the issue, ministers could only indicate during a September 2015 Commons debate on road traffic sentencing that public consultation on the review would begin “soon”. Now the Road Safety Statement merely indicates that it may happen at some unspecified future date.

CTC is also concerned that the Road Safety Statement has:

  • a lack of general action on tightening up lorry safety;
  • no targets or indicators to show how progress in measuring road safety can be achieved;
  • no commitment to cycle friendly design in all new street designs and planned road maintenance works; and
  • increasingly placed the burden of road safety on technology and insurance providers.

It is notable yesterday’s Road Safety 'Statement' appears to have been downgraded from a Road Safety 'Plan' as mentioned in the Department for Transport’s publication “Setting the First Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy: Getting Britain Moving”, issued only last Thursday (17 Dec).

Roger Geffen MBE, CTC Policy Director, said:

“This is a very disappointing Road Safety Statement which ultimately shows the Government is letting unsafe drivers off the hook. This is not just a concern for cyclists and pedestrians, but for everyone using our roads.

“If the Government wants to meet its manifesto commitments of reducing fatal and serious injuries to cyclists and other road users, it must commit to publishing its long awaited review of road traffic offences and penalties in the early New Year. It must also reverse the dramatic decline in road policing and provide a much needed boost to the role of other enforcement bodies.

“While the £50m announced for cycle training over the next 4 years is welcome, the lack of commitment to 'cycle-proofing' for all new street designs and planned road maintenance demonstrates that there is still work to be done to improve cycle safety. As the national cycling charity, we look forward to working with the Government to deliver high quality space for cycling.”

Contact information 

CTC Press Office
Email: publicity@ctc.org.uk
Telephone: 0844-736-8453

Notes to editors 
  1. Road police numbers have now fallen by 37% since 2003, even though total police numbers are down by just 3.5%. 
  2. The proportion of fatal and serious road injuries which involve cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists has risen sharply to 60%, up from 52% in 2005-9. https://www.ctc.org.uk/news/20151127-ctc-calls-lorry-safety-parliament-r... 
  3. The DfT’s Road Safety Statement can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-unveils-host-of-measures-t... 
  4. For more information about the review of road traffic offences and penalties go to: https://www.ctc.org.uk/news/government-announces-full-review-of-driving-... 
  5. For further instances of miscarriages of justice or weak sentencing in the UK visit www.roadjustice.org.uk  
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