17 September 2009

S3M-4861 Road Safety Framework [Closing Speech]

Scottish Parliament

Thursday 17 September 2009

[THE PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 09:15]
... ... ...
Road Safety Framework

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Trish Godman): The next item of business is a debate on motion S3M-4861, in the name of Stewart Stevenson, on the Scottish road safety framework.

... ... ...

Stewart Stevenson:

This has been a useful debate. As I indicated at the outset, I am prepared to accept all three amendments—I could, of course, pick at some of their wording—because they all reflect the concern that is shared by all parties in the Parliament to ensure that we make our roads safer and that we make people's use of those roads safer.

Road safety is not an issue that we can build our way out of by forever improving our roads. Indeed, it is pretty clear that an increasing proportion of the accidents on our roads are related to driver behaviour and that, increasingly, the engineering interventions that we make on our roads should be about protecting people—who are often confronted by unreasonable driver behaviour—from the consequences of other people's accidents by giving them roads that give them exits or soft options that minimise the effects of poor driving.

We have had some good speeches that have highlighted a number of important issues. Des McNulty talked about the visually impaired and the use of shared surfaces. Like him, I think that there are some important issues there. The idea of clearing a space and making it shared is a good one, if we can find ways of providing areas in which people who are visually impaired can be protected and of allowing people to recognise the different needs of others.

The concept of shared surfaces often relates to the reduction of speeds in urban areas. Charlie Gordon touched on that in what was, as ever, a thoughtful speech. He said that we should use measures that affect the way that people use our roads to improve safety. I have every sympathy with that approach.

Des McNulty also mentioned the need to work with Westminster—we do, of course. We have had a number of good ideas from Westminster, and it is clear that Westminster sees merit in what we have done, much of which is reflected in what it is doing. We are working on slightly different timescales, but we are certainly working to a shared objective.

Mention was made of the Swedish objective of zero road deaths, but it is worth making the point that, although important work is being done and good progress has been made in Sweden, there is not the same degree of cross-body working that exists in Scotland, which was introduced by the previous Administration and has been sustained by this one. Indeed, the Swedes are having to have a rethink, as the progress that they had made is not being sustained.

Alex Johnstone, among others, introduced the subject of rural road deaths. Those of us who represent areas in the north-east of Scotland have particular concerns about the relationship of that issue to young drivers. It is suggested that two thirds of accidents are caused by driver error. Inexperienced drivers in their first year of driving—members should note that I said "inexperienced" rather than "young", although it is inevitable that young drivers will be inexperienced—are as much as five or six times more likely to have an accident as other people are. We must have a special focus on them.

Alex Johnstone and Alison McInnes spoke about school buses, which is not just an issue of legislation. Technology can help, but we must educate and show true leadership. Alison McInnes said that we need targets—of course we do—and pointed, quite properly, to the fact that children from the lowest socioeconomic groups are at significantly higher risk.

The budget of Sustrans is being sustained, and we are working on driver training with the Driving Standards Agency at Westminster. It is clear that some roads need new investment, and I welcome the work that Stuart McMillan has been doing in his constituency to help identify where such investment is appropriate.

Like many members, Jamie Stone spoke about his constituency. He highlighted the fact that road junctions present particular challenges, which they do. Dave Thompson returned to the subject of drink-driving limits. I am glad that the Liberals reflected the position that we have taken in their amendment.

Charlie Gordon got the school jotter out of the back of his pants and talked about kerb drill. It is right that we need some flair and imagination of the kind that has meant that, even at his great age, the road safety education that he received at school is still at the forefront of his mind. We must keep doing such work.

We would all be astonished if anyone had risen to their feet today to oppose road safety and, of course, we have not been astonished.

We have had an excellent debate. Much more has been said than I can summarise in the six minutes that I have been kindly allowed. We will read the Official Report carefully and seek to respond accordingly. We will, of course, continue to work with partners.

I hope that we achieve unanimity when we vote.


Stewart Stevenson
does not gather, use or
retain any cookie data.

However Google who publish for us, may do.
fios ZS is a name registered in Scotland for Stewart Stevenson

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP