The Department of Environment (NI) recently held a consultation on preparing a new road safety strategy for Northern Ireland which will cover the years 2010 to 2020. The consultation ran from 16 March 2010 to 15 June 2010. The consultation paper outlined key challenges to be addressed over the lifetime of the strategy and proposed a number of action measures which have been agreed by the statutory road safety partners. Views were invited on preparing a new road safety strategy for Northern Ireland that will shape the way ahead for safety on roads over the next decade. Access the original consultation Below is the full IPH response: Submission to the Consultation on Preparing a Road Safety Strategy for Northern Ireland 2010-20 Department of the Environment 15 June 2010
The Institute of Public Health in Ireland (IPH) acknowledges that health is influenced by a wide range of social determinants, including economic, environmental, social and biological factors. Transport and road safety are identified as key determinants of health and we appreciate the opportunity to comment on the Department of the Environment (DoE) consultation paper to prepare a Road Safety Strategy for Northern Ireland 2010-20.
• IPH welcomes targets to reduce road casualties in NI in line with the Investing for Health Strategy.
• IPH welcomes the recognition that reducing road traffic collisions will make a significant impact on costs attributed to the treatment of related injuries in the health sector.
• IPH approves of the strong focus on cross-sectoral working throughout the strategy and recognition that a range of partners can contribute to reducing road traffic accidents and fatalities. There is also potential for effective North South cooperation.
• Recent research conducted by the DoE highlights traffic injuries follow a socio-economic gradient with those from lower socio-economic groups having poorer outcomes in relation to road traffic collisions. The proposed measures do not give sufficient emphasis to inequalities attributed to road traffic collisions.
IPH calls for the Strategy to include measures to reduce inequity in health outcomes
1. Contributing to a safer and healthier society IPH welcomes the strong focus on cross-sectoral working throughout the strategy. This supports the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) Investing for Health targets to reduce the death and serious accident rate from accidents . The health sector should be, and is, identified as a key contributor to developing a comprehensive Road Safety strategy as it is recognised that the cost of road traffic collisions falls heavily on the health budget. Road traffic collisions cost the Northern Ireland economy on average £1,683,810 for a fatality, £189,200 for a serious injury and £14,590 for a slight injury . IPH welcomes the proposed emphasis on reducing fatalities and injuries and enhancing prevention measures.
2. Facilitating active travel The strategy also has a number of cross-cutting themes which will impact on active travel ie move from a reliance on private cars to walking, cycling and increase use of public transport. Reducing motorised traffic speed limits can enhance active travel such as walking and cycling, thus increasing physical activity levels in communities. This will help to decrease greenhouse gas emissions which can contribute to combating climate change and thus support the Department for Regional Development (DRD) drive for a Sustainable Transport system and modal shift towards active travel. The health outcomes from active travel include increasing physical activity levels which can contribute to tackling obesity in Northern Ireland.
3. Potential health impacts relating to the Strategy IPH acknowledges and welcomes the Health Impact Assessment (HIA) screening exercise conducted on the strategy as part of the Integrated Impact Assessment. IPH delivered a HIA training session to the Road Safety Division in early 2009 which reinforced the wider determinants of health perspective to the team. IPH reviewed the HIA screening exercise and believes that the strategy has wider implications for health than identified. Further details are provided below:
Action measure Comment
4 – 6 Following the successful installation of pilot schemes at two primary schools and, subject to available funding, we will develop a programme of part time 20mph speed limits at rural schools on roads where the national speed limit applies. We will investigate options for more cost effective signing systems as an alternative to those used in the pilots. Reducing speed limits in school zones to 20mph has been shown to be an effective measure for reducing road traffic casualtiesand if appropriately targeted can help achieve a relative reduction in inequalities in road-injuries and deaths. Alongside creating safer roads introducing 20mph zones may also make a positive contribution to encouraging walking and cycling which will impact on physical activity levels. This is important because the number of young people walking or cycling to school has rapidly decreased in Northern Ireland in both urban and rural areas.
In 1994 61% of young people walked to school which reduced to 50% in 2004. Parental concerns over road safety has been cited a as one reason for this reduction. Being physically active can help to reduce the likelihood of being overweight or obese. According to recent studies, 22% of children in Northern Ireland are overweight or obese. Obesity can lead to diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer. Walking or cycling to school also offers more opportunities for social interaction with subsequent benefits for both mental and physical health . The speed at which a car travels at impacts on the severity of the injury and reduced speed limits therefore impact on fatality rates. One of the biggest ways to make streets safer is to reduce speeds and 20mph zones should be investigated in not only urban areas but rural villages as well. In residential areas traffic should move at speeds appropriate to sharing with people. Traffic calming measures can reduce speed as well as the volume of traffic, and the frequency and severity of traffic accidents which can lead to increased walking and cycling which is beneficial for physical activity levels.
Other initiatives include the development of Home Zone areas which physically alter the street landscape forcing drivers to travel through the area at slower speeds and with greater care. Home Zone areas have been shown to turn streets into valued public space and encourage a sense of community. A greater use of the streets by people leads to an increase in natural surveillance, which in turn acts as a deterrent to crime. Encouraging more people to use the streets can contribute to a reduction in congestion and noise pollution and can improve air quality. Many residents, particularly elderly ones, may feel isolated from their immediate neighbours. Returning the streets to areas where residents can socialise can lead to a reduction in social exclusion. We will consider the wider introduction of enforceable and advisory 20mph speed limits in residential areas and other urban areas where there is a significant presence of vulnerable road users. We will pilot enforceable 20mph speed limits (without traffic calming engineering measures such as road humps, tables and cushions).
32 We will work with colleagues in Planning Service to ensure that road safety is included as early as possible in the planning process including for urban regeneration projects. Road safety is a crucial element of any new regeneration programme. This has the potential to create safer environments, impact on levels of walking and cycling and ensure public money is invested to benefit public health. Planning Policy Statement 13 (PPS13) reviews transport and land use and identifies ‘innovative measures should be developed for the safe and effective management of traffic’ which includes road safety. Greater emphasis needs to be given to road safety in the implementation of PPS13. Different urban forms need to be considered for example shopping areas provide on-street parking which can attribute to urban collisions. Examples from American States show that introducing planning legislation has a major focus on accommodating all road users, including cyclists, pedestrians and children.
37-39 We will progressively introduce Puffin crossings to replace existing Pelican crossings and at new crossing sites. We will extend the use of Toucan crossings and other controlled pedestrian crossings. These are different types of pedestrian crossing. A pelican crossing features a standard set of traffic lights with a push button and two coloured lamps for pedestrians. The pedestrian lights are situated on the far side of the road to the pedestrian. A puffin crossing is similar but has the lights on the same side as the pedestrian; a toucan crossing is a crossing for pedestrians and bicycles. The location and accessibility of crossings are important in improving pedestrian access The risk of crossing the road increases with age, especially after 79 years, with injuries to older people (over 65 years) tending to be more serious and more often fatal than injuries to other groups. Surveys of older pedestrians in the UK found particular concerns about crossing busy roads. While only 35 per cent of roads crossed by older pedestrians were main roads, 85 per cent of this group’s injuries were on these roads. This can also result in social isolation as older people may have enhanced fears when crossing road leading to reduced access to services and interaction with others. There is a need to consider the link between the pedestrian and traffic movement. Kensington High Street recently removed unnecessary clutter such as kerbs at junctions, the number of street signs and contrary to conventional wisdom on road safety removed most of the guard railings. This has been shown to reduce casualities by 47% compared to before the redesign showing that improving the quality of streetscapes can improve safety. The use and types of pedestrian crossing sites therefore need to be carefully considered in relation to the built environment into which they are being placed. Investigate technical innovations for increasing driver awareness of pedestrians at zebra crossings. We will pilot the introduction of countdown timer signals at pelican or toucan crossing sites. These will be trialled at sites where there is high pedestrian flow and where many crossing movements frequently occur outside the safe operational crossing time.
40-41 Where there is provision for cyclists, we will, wherever practical, seek to ensure they are physically separated from vehicular traffic; in urban areas where this is not possible we will consider making the speed limit 20mph. Modifying infrastructure to facilitate filtered permeability (the extent to which urban forms permit (or restrict) movement of people or vehicles in different directions) has beensuccessful in restraining car use by giving walking and cycling an advantage, in terms of speed, distance and convenience, over private motor traffic. This can lead to safer journeys for pedestrians and cyclists. We will continue to develop and maintain cycling infrastructure on appropriate routes to increase cycle usage and safety.
42-51 Information IPH welcome a move to more integrated information systems particularly with the National Roads Authority in Ireland.
76 Continue to carry out campaigns and enforcement and consider introducing retraining courses on seat belt use to further improve compliance rates. Seat belt legislation is an excellent example of a measure to protect health with currently 91% compliance for front seat occupants and 84-90% for rear occupants in the UK (including NI). Legislation should continually be enforced in this area to reach optimum compliance rates.
84-89 Drink and drugs The Department of Transport, England is currently undertaking an Independent Expert Review of drink and drug driving laws which will consider measures to further reduce the number of deaths caused by drink and drug driving. The proposals for changes to the legislative regime for drink and drug driving as a result of the Independent Expert Review should be examined for consideration in Northern Ireland.
107-112 We will set up an Active Travel Forum, including a range of stakeholders, which will consider a broad strategic approach to [, and the promotion of,] active travel. IPH welcomes the establishment of an Active Travel Forum but would like to highlight that the DRD has just set up such a group. IPH recommend that one group is established to look at a range of active travel issues concerning DoE, DRD and others. Health is a key sector which needs to be represented on the group. This will also promoted joined-up working between sectors to enhance information sharing practices and initiatives in identified areas. IPH strongly supports cycling as a means of increasing physical activity as well as being good for mental health but recognisesthat the vulnerability of cyclists compared with other road users can have potentially negative impacts on health. While the evidence clearly shows that wearing a helmet is protective, particularly for some groups, there is some evidence which suggests that making the wearing of helmets compulsory for all groups may reduce the likelihood of some people cycling. IPH would support a thorough and objective review of the evidence both for and against legislation in relation to cycle helmets We will consider producing new public information campaigns addressing pedestrian safety taking into account the needs of people who are deaf. We will consider producing a new public information campaign about the dangers of being a pedestrian and the need to wear reflective clothing. We will consider producing a new public information campaign to educate pedestrians on the dangers of walking home whilst under the influence of alcohol. We will consider producing a new public information campaign highlighting the dangers associated with being a pedestrian on rural roads. We will continue to monitor and, where appropriate, carry out NI specific research, on pedestrian and cyclist behaviour with a view to developing further effective policy interventions.
117 We will work with local authorities, to explore ways to build capacity to reduce casualties at local level, identify local road safety issues and objectives and determine how we can work together to address local needs and priorities. Cross-sectoral work is essential to promote road safety. Education and health are key sectors alongside local authorities. Local transport plans are proposed for local government under the Review of Public Administration which will promote local involvement. Road safety is a key issue which needs to be included in these plans alongside consideration as part of the community planning process and the power of wellbeing. Safer Road user groups Children and young people A number of groups are identified as being particularly vulnerable in relation to road safety which include children and young people, older people and people from lower socioeconomic groups. IPH welcome the consideration of additional measures to protect these groups. Older people Motorcyclists Pedestrians
4. Addressing disadvantage IPH appreciates the research undertaken to review deprivation and child pedestrian road casualties . During the HIA training session to the Road Safety Division, IPH highlighted evidence to show that those in lower socio-economic groups were more likely to be involved and die in a road traffic collision than those from higher socio-economic groups. DoE recent research supports these findings and identifies the inequalities which exist in relation to road traffic collisions. The DoE report identified that ‘across all child age groups (0-15 years) children resident in the most deprived areas are nearly 5 (4.8) times more likely to be injured as a pedestrian in a road collision than those resident in the most affluent areas. Females resident in the most deprived areas are nearly 15 (14.7) times more likely to be injured as a pedestrian’ . Health inequalities are the differences in health outcomes between different groups of the population. This research clearly shows that those living in deprived areas, particularly women and children are more likely to suffer ill-health as a result of a road traffic collision. IPH supports a universal approach to increased road safety but believes that the scale and intensity of actions need to proportionate to the level of disadvantage. There are a number of action measures which could be adapted to place a greater emphasis on targeting disadvantaged groups such as prioritising road safety initiatives in areas of deprivation. There is also a need to ensure that monitoring and evaluation mechanisms are included to examine its impact on health inequalities.
5. Developing a Road Safety Strategy for Northern Ireland IPH would be pleased to work with the Road Safety Division to provide further evidence and support to ensure the Strategy can achieve its objectives in a way that also supports health and wellbeing.
Contact details For further information on this submission, please contact Claire Higgins Public Health Development Officer Institute of Public Health in Ireland Forestview Purdy’s Lane Belfast BT8 7ZX Tel: +44 28 9064 8494 Email: Claire.firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Jane Wilde Chief Executive Institute of Public Health in Ireland Forestview Purdy’s Lane Belfast BT8 7ZX Tel: +44 28 9064 8494 Email: email@example.com
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