Westcotec is urging policy makers to promote a better understanding of how technology can promote compliance with the rules, reduce collisions and save lives on the UK’s roads.
The call follows the release of disturbing news that more people died in road collisions in the UK in 2019 than in 2010, despite a Europe-wide goal of a 50% reduction by the end of the decade.
Westcotec managing director Chris Spinks said: “I am passionate about re-energising a sustained and significant reduction in the number of people killed on our roads. Too often in my 30-year career as a police officer I dealt with the terrible consequences of fatal collisions. But I also saw the numbers of people killed fall steadily right up towards the end of my service five years ago.
“There have been so many opportunities in the past decade to continue that downward casualty trend, but we have missed out, in my opinion because road safety has fallen way down the lost of government priorities.” Spinks says it is very disappointing that there were more deaths on the UK’s roads in 2019 than in 2010.
“We signed up to halving the number of road deaths by 2020, and we have missed that target by a country mile,” he added. “In an ideal world, everyone could buy in to the concept of safer communities and compliant road users who stay within the rules. But as shown by the extreme speeding and shocking examples of dangerous driving during the recent months of lockdown, there is a great deal of work to do in persuading some drivers to make safety a priority.
“Westcotec, along with other companies in the UK, specialises in the provision of cost-effective devices that use smart technology to provide drivers with enhanced information to aid their decision-making process, whether they are speeding, approaching a collison hotspot or need warning of pedestrians, cyclists or other hazards ahead.
“If persuasion fails, then the ultimate sanction must be effective, robust enforcement. To do this effectively, police forces need up-to-date equipment and processes that are fit for purpose, along with resources that can effectively carry out the prevention and, where necessary, enforcement work. “Many of our European neighbours have streamlined their drink driving and drug driving systems to provide a much faster process that can be completed at the roadside.
“In this country we have tied ourselves in knots over clunky procedures and exhaustive paperwork,” he explains. “Mobile phone legislation needs revising, so that any driver caught using a hand-held phone behind the wheel can be easily prosecuted without the unnecessary burden of providing too high a level of evidence, whether sending a text, taking pictures, surfing the web or scrolling through a music playlist.
“This is vital if we are serious as a nation about reducing casualties for road safety, because there is no doubt that people using their phones are causing collisions, with lives lost as a result. Other countries have taken bold steps in this regard. Take a look at Australia with its mobile phone enforcement camera network across New South Wales, for example.
“The UK’s roads are some of the safest in the world. However, we still lost more than 1,900 people in collisions last year. A willingness on behalf of ministers to provide the right technology – whether for engagement or enforcement, could save many lives. In my opinion it’s central to government’s role of safeguarding us from the consequences of unlawful road use.”