A new safety strategy and action plan to cut road deaths and injuries across North Yorkshire and York will see a range of public bodies develop a more systematic approach, featuring initiatives from redesigned streets to helping elderly people access public transport.
The first major review of road safety across the area since 2016 has concluded bodies such as councils, the emergency services, Highways England and NHS need to improve partnership coordination and look at the transport system as a whole, to not only reduce casualties, but also improve the health and wellbeing of road users.
The York and North Yorkshire Safety Partnership Roads Strategy is set to be launched just months after analysis from the Road Safety Foundation showed a stretch of the A682 near Skipton named as England’s most persistently high-risk rural route despite North Yorkshire County Council spending £615,000 on a range of schemes.
The partnership’s chairman, deputy chief fire officer Jonathan Foster, said its focus over the next five years would be to work as a team to gather resources and expertise to deliver a co-ordinated, evidenced-led approach.
The strategy document concludes: “We realise that we have a challenge ahead of us, one that is not the sole responsibility of any single agency to address.
“That is why we are collectively determined to work as the York and North Yorkshire Road Safety Partnership, bringing together the key agencies responsible for keeping our road users safe, healthy, and active as they travel across our city and county.”
The rate of killed and seriously injured casualties on North Yorkshire’s roads bucked an upward national trend by falling 26 per cent in the five years to 2019.
Despite this, York and North Yorkshire sees an annual average of 2,458 people injured on the area’s roads, which have seen a 12.5 per cent increase in traffic since 2010, resulting in a greater diversity of road users.
Mr Foster said the partnership would concentrate on prevention and early intervention activities, increasing effective road safety education and engagement activities.
Echoing comments made by North Yorkshire’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Mr Foster said the multi-agency group need to work to ensure the road infrastructure was fit for purpose and that signage was clear and visible.
It underlines that engineering solutions, such as redesigned streets to encourage lower speeds, will be a key part of the action plan.
Mr Foster said enforcement would be used to deter and disrupt both inappropriate driver behaviour and the criminal use of the road network.
The partnership plans to use in-depth analysis of data for different areas to identify incident hotspots, patterns in collision locations and road user types most at risk to best target prevention activities and interventions.
Alongside an array of education initiatives, the action plan states the partnership will explore opportunities to work with elderly and disability groups to promote safe travel and mobility using a range of transport types.
The action plan also calls to maximise the use of innovative technologies which contribute to enhanced road safety and promote use of telematics and black box technology used to monitor driver behaviour.