Agenda item

Update on the East Sussex Road Safety Programme

Report by the Director of Communities, Economy and Transport



15.1     The Head of Communities introduced the report on the East Sussex Road Safety Programme. Charlotte Marples, the Project Manager of the East Sussex Road Safety Programme, was introduced to the Committee.


15.2     In East Sussex 90-95% of Killed or Seriously Injured (KSI) road accidents are caused by human error, which can be attributed to a number of different factors. It is important to have strong evidential data in order to target interventions that will have the most impact on reducing KSI’s. The feedback from the consultation with partners on the Programme has been very positive. The Behavioural Insight Team (BIT) is keen to work with the project, particularly because reducing KSI’s is a new area to apply behaviour change techniques.


15.3     The Programme Board for the project met on 22 August 2016, and is comprised of representatives from East Sussex County Council (ESCC), Sussex Police, East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) and Highways England. The chair of the East Sussex Road Safety Coordination Group (ESRSCG) has also joined the Programme Board.


15.4     The Action Plan for the Programme is in appendix 3 of the report and will be reviewed in the light of further evidence and data analysis. Some strands of work have begun, such as work with the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership (SSRP) to review the 40% KSI reduction target; measures targeting occupational drivers and; the implementation of speed reduction schemes. An update report will be brought back to the Committee in June 2017, once further analysis and progress has been made on the project.


15.5     The Committee made a number of comments on the East Sussex Road Safety Programme, which are summarised below.


People Driving for Business / Occupational Drivers

15.6     The Committee commented that there are increasing numbers of delivery drivers as a result of internet shopping. It is important for businesses to appreciate their responsibilities for safer driving. Many delivery drivers are self-employed whose earnings are related to the number of packages they deliver. The Committee asked if companies such as Amazon and others would be held accountable for their drivers.


15.7     The Head of Communities responded that the project will tackle this issue through the delivery of the Company Operator Safer Transport Scheme (COSTS) programme. This is a Department for Transport (DfT) programme that advises companies on their liabilities, obligations and the law when employing drivers for work. The COSTS programme will target small and medium sized businesses that may not have the same resources as larger companies for driver training.


15.8     The Lead Member for Community Services outlined that the SSRP COSTS project is delivering presentations to the business community as Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) may be unaware of the current legislation. There is also a need to contact businesses and raise awareness through the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Chambers of Commerce and other business organisations.


Older Drivers

15.9     The Committee is aware of a number of serious accidents in East Sussex that have involved older drivers. The Committee asked if the Programme will include older drivers in the target groups. The Head of Communities responded that although older drivers are not a priority group identified by SSRP at present, the Programme can choose to focus on them.


15.10   The Committee noted that some insurance companies require the use of ‘black boxes’ which record driver behaviour, for inexperienced drivers. The Committee asked if this type of technology could be used for older drivers to monitor their ability to drive safely. The Head of Communities replied that the project will look at the use of new technology and added that people can report poor driving through Sussex Police’s Operation Crackdown.


Non Residents

15.11   The Committee observed that a number of people involved in KSI’s are not East Sussex residents and therefore it will be important for the Programme to spread further afield. The Head of Communities responded that the Programme will use data analysis to see how many KSI’s involve non-residents, and then devise measures accordingly. The project team will liaise with neighbouring authorities to share information and outcomes from the Programme.


National Initiatives

15.12   The Lead Member for Transport and Environment commented that KSI’s are not just an East Sussex issue and asked if the project, in terms of evidence gathering, is looking at what central government is proposing on this issue. For example, is there anything coming into statute for 16-24 year olds (e.g. the use of black boxes fitted to vehicles) and actions to deal with the use of mobile phones whilst driving. The Head of Communities replied that the project will be speaking to the DfT about this and any other future developments that may affect KSI’s and driver behaviour.


Use of New Technology

15.13   The Committee asked about the capabilities of the ‘black boxes’ used by insurance companies for people who want to reduce their insurance premiums. The Head of Communities explained that the ‘black boxes’ can record what you do and how you drive which is linked to a Global Positioning System (GPS) system. It may be possible to expand the application of this sort of technology, but the devices do not record sound at present (e.g. to see if people are using mobile phones whilst driving).


Programme Budget

15.14   The Committee asked if the £1million budget for the Programme was affected by the savings proposals which are part of the Reconciling Policy, Performance and Resources (RPPR) process. The Assistant Director, Communities confirmed that the £1million budget for the Programme is ring-fenced and not subject to savings as the funding comes from the Public Health budget.


KSI Reduction Target

15.15   With regard to the target of a 40% reduction in KSI’s (paragraph 2.1.4 of the report), the Committee asked if the proposal is to remove the target and if so, what would it be replaced with. The Head of Communities responded that there are a lot of factors that ESCC cannot influence as a County Council that affect the KSI figures, and therefore the current target may be unrealistic. West Sussex County Council has a “vision zero” aspiration (i.e. they aspire to have no road deaths) and state that they are trying through a number of methods to get the number of KSI’s down.


15.16   The Lead Member for Community Services commented that there are issues around data collection and comparability that could be contributing to the higher than average KSI figures for East Sussex. However, in his view, not to have a KSI reduction target would be unwise.


15.17   Members of the Committee observed that at Wealden District Council, the KSI targets were removed and replaced with an aspiration statement, as the Council could not influence KSI’s on their own. The aspiration to reduce KSI’s is still recorded in the Wealden District Council Plan.


15.18   The Committee’s view is that targets need to be achievable (i.e. based on factors that are within ESCC’s control) and it may be better to have aspiration to reduce the number of KSI’s. There is also a need to have benchmarks to measure progress on what we are doing and to focus interventions. The Committee is not so concerned about the retention of the 40% KSI reduction target, but would like to have some measures in order to focus the efforts and resources to reduce KSI’s.


15.19   The Lead Member for Community Services commented that benchmarks are important but it is also important to focus on the causes of the accidents to understand what more can be done. Also, there needs to be more effort made to publicise the work ESCC and its partners are doing to reduce KSI’s and to provide more information about the causes of accidents. The Lead Member for Transport and Environment stated that it was important to deal with some of the misinformation that is in the public domain about the causes of accidents.


15.20   The Committee agreed that the current KSI reduction targets need looking at further and that the Head of Communities can report back the Committee’s views to the SSRP. 


Concluding Comments


15.21   The Committee welcomed the report as the number of KSI’s is a serious issue for East Sussex. The Lead Member for Community Services pointed out that KSI’s are an issue, particularly in the rural areas of the county such as Wealden. The Road Safety Programme’s approach to interventions is not “one size fits all” and this is very encouraging as the interventions can be tailored to the local community.


15.22   The Committee RESOLVED to:

1) note progress on the project; and

2) agree that an update report will be brought back to the Committee in June 2017.


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