Britain should be braced for a possible increase in the number of road deaths because of cuts to the road safety budget and traffic growth caused by economic recovery.
That is the warning from nine out of ten road safety professionals who fear reduced spending is going to harm road safety projects and over half believe a loss of expertise will mean there will be no further falls in the number of casualties.
A number of respondents wrote that they feared the amount of those killed and injured could actually rise.
These are amongst the findings of a report called Tackling the Deficit, Where Next for Road Safety compiled for the RAC Foundation by PACTS (the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety).
In the wake of the Comprehensive Spending Review, PACTS surveyed in detail 50 road safety professionals working for local authorities, police forces, UK Fire and Rescue services, academic bodies or consultancies.
As a result of budget cuts, councils have already reported examples of:
• Cutting road safety engineering spending by 60-80% • Abolishing or reducing the number of lollipop men and women • Switching off speed cameras • Reducing road safety education programmes including those aimed at pedestrians and cyclists
The report concludes it is vital that government sets out a firm strategy for road safety over the next decade in its forthcoming Strategic Road Safety Framework. The previous ten-year plan came to an end in March 2010.
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Britain has made huge strides in cutting road deaths over recent years, but further casualty reduction is not guaranteed. Reduced budgets and more traffic could mean more people killed rather than less.
“To avoid this, government must prioritise road safety and send out a clear message to councils that this is an important area of policy.
"It must also set bold targets for cutting death and injury so that safety professionals have something to strive for. The best estimates are that a 50% cut in those killed and injured on the roads is possible by 2020."