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In a tweet earlier this month London's top traffic copy, Superintendant Andy Cox, reminded readers that August every year is National Road Victims Month and asked them to watch the video above, made by the charity RoadPeace.

On Saturday 8th August, because of Covid-19, RoadPeace's annual Ceremony of Remembrance, usually held at the RoadPeace Wood and the Millennial Chapel at the National Memorial Arboretum, will take place via Zoom.

The online ceremony will include a message of support from the Victims’ Commissioner Dame Vera Baird, readings, music and an act of remembrance. An important part of every RoadPeace remembrance service is the honouring of crash victims and reading out of names. (Click here for more details.)

National Road Victim Month 2020


Every day five people are killed on the roads in the UK and more than 60 seriously injured

August was designated National Road Victim Month following the death of Princess Diana on 31st August 1997, and to commemorate the first death by a motor vehicle - Bridget Driscoll in 1896. Since then, well over half a million people have been killed on the roads in Britain.

And over the last decade, the number of people killed on Britain’s roads has stayed at more or less the same level year on year. Five people are killed every day, and over 60 are seriously injured.

Yet many in society still refer to these preventable, needless tragedies as “accidents”, and recent comments by Dominic Cummings and Michael Gove that it is perfectly acceptable to drive a car to test ones eyes, shows that Britain tolerates and accepts the danger on our roads. 

And whilst much more needs to be done to prevent crashes, this National Road Victim Month RoadPeace and its members are rallying to raise awareness on the injustice that crash victims face, as well as remembering loved ones killed on the roads.

How to stop the terror on our roads

Article by John Stewart, originally published on the RoadPeace website on 15 July 2020

vision zeroThe two incidents too place on the same weekend in June. Three young men died in the ‘terror’ attack in Reading. Three pedestrians, all members of the same family, were killed in Cumbria by a car driven dangerously by a drunken driver.

Each and every one of the deaths was tragic. I can’t help but reflect, though, on the very different way the media covered the two incidents. Reading generated huge national publicity that went on for days, even weeks. Cumbria was national news for a day, maybe two at most.

When I hear about the ‘war on terror’ I want to scream at the television. I long for the day when a politician or panellist talks about the biggest threat to us. Which is not Muslim extremism or even the chance of being murdered. It is the danger of being killed in a car crash.

The figures are startling.

Between 2000 and 2017 across the UK:

  • On average each year there were 7 deaths as a result of terrorism; a total of 126
  • The total number killed on the roads was 45,415

Over a slightly different period (2002/3 and 2018/19), 11,949 were murdered (in England and Wales).

The Real Terror

The real terror is on the roads. The ‘terrorists’ are ordinary people driving their cars. Now very, very few drivers set out to kill somebody. Most are mortified when a person dies as a result of their driving. But for the victims and their relatives, the result is the same. ‘Intent’ is irrelevant. Somebody has died.

It is true that, although there are annual fluctuations, the trend over the last two decades has been downwards but the figures are still frighteningly high. In 2018 1,782 people were killed on UK roads and over 27,000 seriously injured. The war on this ‘terror’ needs some new weapons.

Vision Zero

And they may have found them in Scandinavia. Helsinki and Oslo have cut pedestrian deaths to zero. In 2019 neither city recorded a single pedestrian fatality. For many years now both countries have signed up to Vision Zero which started in Sweden in 1997.

Vision Zero aims to do exactly what is says on the tin: eliminate road deaths and serious injuries. The Scandinavian countries haven’t met that goal yet but their policies are showing how it might be achieved.

Oslo and Helsinki have cut speed limits, changed street design, removed space for cars and generally made life harder for motorists. In Oslo, for example, it takes more time to drive from one part of the city to another now and you have to pay money to use the road much more than you used to. In 2017 there was a 70 per increase in tolls across the city which led to a 6 per cent decrease in traffic. Car parking charges were increased and many parking spaces were removed altogether to make room for 35 miles of new cycle lanes.

Similar traffic reduction measures have been employed in Helsinki. Anni Sinnemäki, the city’s deputy mayor of urban environment, said “It’s not only a question of speed limits, although I think all our specialists do say that is the most important single thing affecting traffic safety.”

Blackpool was the first British city to sign up to Vision Zero, in 2007. It has been followed by others including Brighton and Edinburgh. Transport for London has also signed up.

Vision Zero gives us hope. Hope that the war of terror on our roads can be won. It needn’t be a long drawn out conflict. We have the tools to gain a quick victory. The challenge for politicians is to be brave enough to use them.



Delivering Vision Zero in London

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