A PUBLIC body responsible for boosting safety for drivers and pedestrians on the local road network has backed Barnsley Council’s bid to reduce motoring-related fatalities.
South Yorkshire Road Safety Partnership (SYSRP) is the latest organisation to pledge support for ‘Vision Zero’ - a campaign to eliminate all death and serious injury from the roads.
It comes after the council’s public health, highways and transport departments set a target of a 50 per cent reduction by 2030 before hitting a zero-death target 20 years later.
Vision Zero is a relatively new road safety strategy in the UK, however it has been successful in casualty-reduction schemes in other parts of the world. Tom Finnegan-Smith, chair of SYSRP’s strategic board, said: “Vision Zero is widely regarded as the most effective approach to saving lives on our roads.
“We want to be sure that as a partnership we are doing everything we can to prevent unnecessary loss of life and the pain, grief and suffering caused by each and every road traffic collision.
“It’s a long-term ambition and will take a lot of hard work but any other target is simply unacceptable.”
First launched in Sweden in the 1990s, the Vision Zero approach states that death and serious injuries are preventable - rather than inevitable - on roads. In 2012 there were a total of 725 incidents on Barnsley roads, of which 178 - 24 per cent - resulted in fatal or serious injury.
But in 2021, according to the SYSRP, the number incidents had dropped by 35 per cent to 474, but the killed or serious injury (KSI) bracket remained at a similar level.
“The big difference with this approach is the acknowledgement that as humans we will make mistakes on the road,” Mr Finnegan-Smith added.
“By having a robust system in place, if one part fails, the other elements will come together to prevent death or serious injury.
“Moving forward, all of the partnership’s road safety interventions will fall under the five themes with partners working together toward agreed targets.
“Locally, the first step toward achieving Vision Zero - as well as ensuring greener, safer and more sustainable travel - is to halve KSIs by 2030.
“Partnership road safety teams across Barnsley will deliver data-led interventions to those identified as most at-risk of being involved in a collision.
“Our partners in the police, fire, local authorities and National Highways are committed to working together to manage, design and operate a safe road system.
“We also need members of the public to play their part and adopt positive attitudes and behaviour on our roads.
“Vision Zero will only ever be possible if we all do our bit.
”The Chronicle can reveal targets will be reviewed annually, with Barnsley’s six area councils also playing a role in the scheme - by discussing localised concerns - to drive down statistics.
Coun James Higginbottom, cabinet spokesperson for environment and highways, said: “Ensuring the safety of all road users is of paramount importance.
“That is why Barnsley Council are committed to taking the proactive steps necessary to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads.
“We’re a member of the South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership (SYSRP) which aims to reduce the number of road traffic collisions and make our roads safer.
“We do this by ensuring that education, enforcement and engineering are at the forefront of our collective decision making.
“Although there will inevitably be fluctuations on yearly stats, the overall trend over the past decade is a reduction in casualties.
“We will continue to take the necessary steps to accelerate this trend and to improve the safety of our highway network for all road users.”