08 May 2019
The term road safety encompasses a wide range of considerations for those charged with its delivery. Engineers seek to provide a safe and well-maintained road network, as well as monitoring collisions across the road network to identify trends and geographical patterns. Other road safety professionals provide information and practical support on how to use the road safely, irrespective of the mode of travel.
The delivery of road safety in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire potentially faces several key challenges in the years ahead. The first relates to the resources available to deliver future road safety activities and the need to make best use of what currently exists – on a collective and regional basis; another poses the question whether falling numbers of road casualties diminishes public interest in road safety and potentially calls into question it being regarded an organisational priority within partner organisations; the final strand identifies the likely national goal to reduce road casualties even further, with the development of the next iteration of Scotland’s Road Safety Framework for the period 2021-2030.
Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire have both seen significant reductions in road casualties over the past decade. From a time when serious and fatal collisions were tragically all too frequent, their occurrence is now much less common. That does not mean casualties are now at an acceptable level – they are not, and work continues to reduce the totals further.
The national road casualty reduction targets, set for achievement by December 2020, initially seemed ambitious, however, in various local categories they are on course to be met. A decision is awaited on Scotland’s road casualty reduction targets for the next decade, up to 2030.
The table below shows the total number of people killed and seriously injured in road traffic collisions in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire between 2013 and 2017 and shows some significant reductions.
|ABERDEEN CITY||Killed||Seriously Injured|
Source – Reported Road Casualties Scotland 2017
The local partnership approach to road safety operates through Road Safety North East Scotland. This entity, which meets at both operational and strategic levels, includes members from the local authorities, Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, NHS Grampian, Road Safety Scotland and Transport Scotland. It considers road safety issues across the north-east and can act as an overarching voice to promote local road safety.
While the terms ‘accident blackspot’, ‘killer road’ and ‘notorious junction’ previously saw frequent use, their inclusion in contemporary public discourse has considerably lessened. Many of these locations and routes have undergone remedial work over many years, significantly reducing the risk – whether actual or perceived. Advancements in road design, as seen in the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, incorporate enhanced safety standards which, it is hoped, will see limited number of casualties on this route and others which may follow in the future.
The nationally identified Road Safety Priority Focus Areas (Scotland’s Road Safety Framework Mid-term Review 2015) seek to focus road safety activity on key road user groups such as motorcyclists, pre-drivers, young drivers, older drivers, pedal cyclists and pedestrians. Targeted local interventions already occur, including Rider Refinement North (motorcyclists), Safe Drive Stay Alive (pre and young drivers), and Winter Road Safety – Aberdeen (pedestrians).
A wealth of data exists when examining and reviewing road traffic collisions and their related casualties. Data analysis can identify trends and offers predictions of when road casualties will likely increase among key road user groups locally; e.g. motorcyclists between May and September and pedestrians between November and February. Young drivers (17 – 25 years) continue to feature as the road user age-group most likely to be a driver-related road casualty, while with an ageing population, we must be cognisant of the risks associated with an increasing number of older drivers. The promotion of active travel seeks to increase pedal cycle and pedestrian journeys, however, safety is often cited as a reason for not engaging in these activities.
What remains particularly challenging in road safety and casualty reduction is being able to satisfactorily address, to some extent, the ‘human factor’ in relation to road use. Basic mistakes, errors of judgement, inattention, careless or dangerous behaviours can all lead to catastrophic outcomes on our roads; the fundamental challenge lies in being able to positively influence road users before these actions and outcomes occur. Ultimately, the use of intelligent vehicle safety technology and collision avoidance systems may lessen the risk of collision for some road users, however, this is a developing area and will take some years before it becomes commonplace in all road using vehicles.
Whatever lies ahead in terms of road safety, the longer-term national aim is to achieve ‘a steady reduction in the numbers of those killed and seriously injured, with the ultimate vision of a future where no-one is killed on Scotland’s roads, and the injury rate is much reduced.’
Questions for consideration
Although we welcome comments on the range of issues related to this topic, we have posed some key questions below for consideration in any response you may wish to make.
- What more can we do to positively influence the ‘human aspect’ of road use in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, to support our efforts in casualty reduction?
- How can we make vulnerable road users e.g. pedal cyclists and pedestrians, feel more confident about their safety on the road network?
- How can we promote road safety locally to ensure it remains uppermost in people’s minds, against a reducing statistical risk of being involved in a collision or becoming a casualty?
- Should road safety be increasingly considered as a public health issue, given the impact it can have on individuals’ well-being and public sector providers, particularly the NHS during the long-term treatment of casualties?
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References / Further Information
Scotland’s Road Safety Framework to 2020 ‘ Go Safe on Scotland’s Roads – it’s Everyone’s Responsibility’
Scotland’s Road Safety Framework Mid-term Review 2015
Statistical information – Reported Road Casualties Scotland 2017
Local Road Safety Strategy North East Scotland Road Casualty Reduction Strategy