Tim Read (Head of Transportation) and Rory McMullan (Casualty Reduction Manager) were in attendance for this item.
1. Mr McMullan gave a verbal overview of the Vision Zero road safety strategy. It was noted that zero road deaths by 2050 was the primary goal and that safe systems methodology would be used. Safe roads, speed, vehicles and post collision response were set out as key focuses. The importance of community engagement was highlighted, it was stated that consultation had indicated overall public support for the strategy. Amendments made to the strategy following consultation were set out and included interim targets and simplified language.
2. Highlighting vehicle safety, Mr Love asked for the justification behind the correlation between road safety and low emission vehicles, set out in the strategy. Mr McMullan recognised that whilst there was no strict correlation between road safety and lower emission vehicles, newer, lower emission vehicles were equipped with a greater selection of safety features than older vehicles.
3. Mr Chittenden asked when average speed cameras would be rolled out across Kent and whether local partners had been consulted on the strategy. Mr McMullan confirmed that an average speed camera pilot had been planned for later in the 2021-22 financial year. He reassured members that Kent Police and Kent Fire and Rescue Service had attended stakeholder meetings and endorsed the strategy.
4. Members highlighted the use of bicycles and private e-scooters on pavements as key safety concerns and recognised the role enforcement played in increasing road safety.
5. Following a question from Mr Bond, Mr McMullan confirmed that casualties were divided into three categories: slight, serious and fatal.
6. Mr Watkins welcomed the incorporation of interim targets into the strategy and reflected on the role technology played in reducing road fatalities. He cited the use of black boxes in cars as an example.
7. Ms Parfitt-Reid asked how it would be ensured that police enforcement was carried out to the greatest possible extent in line with the road safety strategy. Mr Jones reassured members that on the issue of transport enforcement, he had been in communication with central government and local partners to extend enforcement powers and maximise capabilities.
8. Members raised their concerns regarding the naming of the strategy, Vision Zero. It was noted that a greater distinction was needed to prevent confusion between Vision Zero and (Carbon) Net Zero and that the proposed name presented an unrealistic target which would lead to criticism even in the event of an increase in road safety. Mr McMullan informed the committee that Vision Zero constituted a multi-national road traffic safety initiative and that the branding of the strategy was not Kent specific.
9. The committee recommended that an alternate name for the strategy be considered.
10.Mr Love abstained to endorse the proposed Cabinet Member decision.
RESOLVED to endorse the proposed decision of the Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport to adopt Vision Zero – The Road Safety Strategy for Kent 2021 – 2026 for subsequent development of delivery plans and pilots.