Report by the Director of Communities, Economy and Transport.
23.1 The Assistant Director Communities introduced the report. He outlined that the Programme had involved working with the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership (SSRP) and other partners on pilot projects to reduce the number of Killed or Seriously Injured (KSI) crashes on the County’s roads. The vast majority of KSI’s and collisions are due to a driver carelessness and error in which speed is also a factor. The Programme has devised a number of trial schemes to change driver behaviour using behavioural science techniques.
23.2 The report provides information on the interim outcomes of two trials aimed at reducing re-offending for speeding. One used a redesigned Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) letter and leaflet in which a randomised trial resulted in 23% of people less likely to re-offend. The second trail involved sending out an anniversary letter a year after the original speeding offence reminding people to continue to drive carefully within the speed limit. This was also successful in reducing re-offending levels. A third project targeted High Risk Routes where low cost measures such as changes to signs, road markings and speed limits were made to change the way the road appears to drivers to produce a ‘self-explaining’ road environment. This led to a decrease in the number of collisions on the eight sites that had a least 8 months post implementation crash data. Full results for all the trials will be reported later in the year.
23.3 The Committee welcomed the report and the encouraging results of the trial schemes. The Committee noted the innovative use of behavioural science techniques to change driver behaviour which is very important in order to reduce the number of KSI collisions in the County. A number of aspects of the report were discussed in more detail which are summarised below.
23.4 The Committee commented that there may be a popular perception that speed is the only factor in causing collisions and other factors such as drink, drugs and driver error also need to be tackled. The Assistant Director Communities outlined the ongoing work of the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership which is crucial in tackling these issues through community engagement. The increased use of technology in the future will also play a part (e.g. driver behaviour monitoring through apps and ‘black boxes’). He added that most people involved in KSI collisions are travelling close to their home address.
23.5 The Lead Member for Communities and Safety outlined that the character of the roads in East Sussex is also a factor and people need to pay attention when they are driving. The emphasis of the report is on the trials to change driver behaviour, which can be challenging. The results are encouraging and there is the opportunity to apply them wider than the County.
Rural Unclassified Roads
23.6 Several members of the Committee highlighted the issue of people driving too fast on narrow and sometimes challenging unclassified rural roads, which typically have the national speed limit of 60 mph. They commented that they would support a blanket lower 40 mph limit on such roads and suggested approaching the Local Government Association (LGA) and the Department for Transport about taking this approach. Many of the neighbouring local authorities have higher speed roads and drivers need to adjust to the driving conditions when they enter East Sussex.
Trial Schemes suspended due to Covid
23.7 The Committee enquired about the trial scheme for motorcyclists and the other trial involving young drivers that had been affected by Covid19 measures. The Assistant Director Communities explained that work on these trials had been paused and is due to continue later this year. In the case of the scheme for motorcyclists a different approach is needed as the original intention was to engage with motorcyclists at events. The team is working with Sussex Police and the Behavioural Insights Team on a different approach which uses the registration process for the “In Case of Emergency” scheme that many motorcyclists participate in.
Baseline KSI Information
23.8 The Committee discussed the baseline KSI information and asked why the East Sussex figures were higher that the England average. The Assistant Director Communities explained that part of the reason is the characteristics of the road network in East Sussex where there is a low number of dual carriageways, many rural roads and roads which require more attention to drive on. The other factor is historically there have been issues with the consistency in the way collision data is recorded in different areas. This has now been standardised so consistency will improve in the future. The Assistant Director Communities agreed that it would be more helpful to look at the KSI data for comparable shire counties. The Committee added that it might also be helpful to look at Fire Service records of collisions they attend. The Assistant Director Communities responded that the team is happy to work with the SSRP to look at this.
High Risk Routes
23.9 The Committee asked if there were issues with the road infrastructure on the High Risk Routes which have led to crashes. The Assistant Director Communities outlined that all KSI collisions are investigated by Sussex Police to identify the cause. In 90% of the cases the cause is attributed to driver error and it is not the County’s roads which are causing crashes.
23.10 The High Risk Routes were identified by analysing collision data to see where there were higher levels of KSI’s and by looking at their suitability for low cost traffic management interventions. The trial has looked at low cost measures to help drivers drive more safely and create ‘self-explained’ road environments. This is so the driver is aware of the road environment and character and is able to moderate their driving so that it is appropriate to the potential hazards present.
23.11 In total 25 High Risk Routes were identified, and 16 schemes were implemented. The report provides the results from the 8 schemes where there is at least 8 months post implementation crash data. It was clarified that the A26 Crowborough to Uckfield route was not included in the trial as there were other routes with higher crash levels. A full list of the routes can be shared with the Committee.
23.12 The Committee RESOLVED to:
1) Welcome the report and congratulate officers on the work that had been undertaken to reduce KSI collisions in East Sussex;
2) Note the positive interim outcomes of the East Sussex County Council Road Safety Programme;
3) Receive a final report on the outcomes of the Programme later in the year.