Road Safety Framework: Annual Report 2014
Road Safety Policy
Four milestone developments and legislative changes have been achieved this year through the Framework.
The Scottish Government has long argued that a lower drink-drive limit will save lives and help make Scotland's roads safer and we have taken action following the devolution of the power to set the drink-drive limit in Scotland through the Scotland Act 2012.
Evidence shows that drivers are six times more likely to die in a road traffic accident with a blood alcohol concentration between 50mg and 80mg per 100ml of blood than with zero blood alcohol. The scientific evidence is clear: the risks of driving under the influence of alcohol start to increase well below the old legal limit. Indeed, there is now a wealth of research indicating that the impairment begins with any departure from zero blood alcohol concentration.
With a blood alcohol level of between 50mg and 80mg, vision is affected, slowing reactions to red lights and tail lights. Drivers are more likely to drive too fast and to misjudge distances when approaching bends. The relative risk of being involved in a road traffic accident for drivers with a reading of 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood was 10 times higher than for drivers with a zero blood alcohol reading. Motorcyclists will find it difficult to drive in a straight line.
Drink driving costs lives: 580 casualties were estimated to be involved in drink-drive accidents in Scotland in 2012, including an estimated 10 fatalities
On 18 November 2014 the Scottish Parliament unanimously voted in favour of a landmark law to lower the limit from 80mg in every 100ml of blood to 50mg in every 100ml of blood with equivalent changes to the limits for alcohol in breath and urine. The new legislation came into effect in Scotland on December 5 2014 bringing into effect the reduced drink drive limit.
Scotland is leading the way across the UK, bringing in a new lower drink-drive limit to save lives on our roads and to continue to deliver through our Road Safety Framework to 2020 the Scottish Government commitment to work with our road safety partners to ensure that there is a steady reduction in those who are killed or seriously injured on Scotland's Roads. We will continue to press the United Kingdom Government on devolving full powers over drink-driving law, which would enable consideration of giving the police powers to breath test drivers anywhere at any time and also for differential limits for young or newly qualified drivers and professional drivers such as lorry or taxi drivers.
A9 Average Speed Cameras
Dramatic improvements in road safety on the A9 trunk road between Dunblane and Perth have been achieved with the introduction of average speed cameras. The A9 Safety Group, established in 2012, sought to identify approaches to improve driver behaviour on the A9, both before and during the dualling of the route between Perth and Inverness. The group undertook analysis of the safety record of the A9 and from this emerged key evidence of vehicles travelling in excess of speed limits and of high severity junction accidents on the A9 between Dunblane and Perth. The research indicated that an average speed camera system on this section of the A9 would significantly reduce road casualties and improve driver behaviour.
The A9 average speed camera system and 50mph HGV pilot went live on October 28th 2014. Early indications are that driver behaviour has significantly improved, with levels of excess speeding substantially reduced. Excess speeding (at 10mph or more above the speed limit) is down by a massive 97%, compared to the levels seen prior to the cameras being in place. Overall speeds above posted speed limit have reduced by around 76%, with fewer than four vehicles per day detected travelling at speeds which warranted enforcement action. This represents an eight-fold reduction compared to previous enforcement strategies. In the area south of Perth, where 200 vehicles per day had previously been recorded at 100mph or greater, no vehicles are now being recorded at that speed. These are spot speeds measured at locations within the average speed camera coverage, not average speeds. This is consistent with the approach taken for baseline data collection. Journey time reliability has improved and feedback from hauliers suggests shorter and more consistent journey times for HGVs.
Seatbelts on School Transport
A step-change achievement in Scottish Ministers' commitment to ensure that seatbelts are provided on all dedicated school transport in Scotland was reached, with a legislative order being approved at both Holyrood and Westminster to facilitate devolution of the necessary powers.
The Scottish Government is clear that there can be no greater responsibility than the protection of our young people and is committed to keeping them safe on the journey to and from the classroom. That's why, in March 2014, then Minister for Transport and Veterans Keith Brown MSP, announced plans to bring forward legislation in the next Scottish Parliament to ensure that this important safety measure is provided on all dedicated school transport carrying primary pupils from 2018 and secondary pupils from 2020. This aligns with the Framework commitments around seatbelts and children and young people.
The lead-in time is to help local authorities and bus operators adapt to the changes and Transport Scotland established a working group of key stakeholders which is undertaking productive discussions as preperations continue. The legal order is a significant milestone and will undergo scrutiny at both Parliaments in early 2015 and, pending approval, will mean that Holyrood is equipped with the powers to change the law in this important area to help improve the safety of Scotland's schoolchildren.
20mph Zones and Limits
The Scottish Government is committed to encouraging initiatives that cut speed, particularly near schools, in residential areas and in other areas of our towns and cities where there is a significant volume of pedestrian or cyclist activity. The Scottish Government believes it is right that local authorities should have the power to set appropriate speed limits on local roads in order to meet local circumstances.
The Framework states that we will "Encourage local authorities to consider 20mph zones in all residential areas". Many local authorities in Scotland have already chosen to implement 20mph zones and limits in residential areas in recent years, and the practice continues to become more widespread. However, the last full guidance on 20mph limits and zones dated back to 2001 and in light of the findings of the City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) 20mph speed limit pilot, which was partially funded from the Framework fund, an update was deemed to be needed. During 2014, revised guidance on 20mph limits and zones was developed in partnership with the Society of Chief Officers for Transportation in Scotland.
The 'Good Practice Guide on 20mph Speed Restrictions' was subsequently published on 8 January 2015, and encourages local authorities to introduce 20mph limits and zones by providing clarity on the range of options available and promotes consistency. The new 20mph Guidance will help towards protecting vulnerable pedestrians and will contribute further towards achieving road casualty targets by reducing speeds on Scotland's roads. The guidance will help create streets where the space is shared more equally between different road users and create a safer environment. The City of Edinburgh Council is now planning to roll out 20mph limits across the city by 2017, while maintaining a strategic 30mph network.
172 people were killed in road accidents in 2013; a 41% decrease since 2004-08, exceeding the reduction needed to meet the 2020 target