The charity IAM has said that the government his cutting the road safety campaigning budget too far and too fast, after figures revealed that spending on such initiatives has been slashed by nealry 80 per cent since 2008/09.
During 2012/13, the government is planning to spend a total of just £3.57 million on such initiatives, compared to £19 million five years earlier. In 2011/12, some £4 million was allocated to road safety.
Of the current year’s spend, just £53,000 has been spent on cycle safety campaigns, with the main focus being efforts against drink-driving, with expenditure standing at £1.689 million, and initiatives related motorcycle safety, at £1.275 million.
Those also dwarfed the amount being spent on £78,000 on campaigns aimed at safeguarding children on the road.
The spend during the current year on reinforcing the anti-drink drive message is roughly equivalent to the economic cost of just one life lost on the road, which IAM notes is £1.7 million.
It says that the cumulative cost of fatal incidents on the road during 2011 was £3.2 billion, which is a little under a thousand times the money being spent on road safety campaigns in the current year.
IAM director of policy Neil Greig commented: “Right across the public sector road safety is being cut too hard and too quickly, despite the huge returns on investment.
“One life saved, saves the economy £1.7 million. £53,000 is a derisory amount to spend on national cycle safety campaigns.
“Until we have the right roads infrastructure in place, publicity and education campaigns are one of the few tools we have to help us save cyclists’ lives.
“£78,000 for children’s safety campaigns is virtually insignificant.
“If the government is serious about safety for these groups, these amounts must be increased. “
“The successful drink driving and biker campaigns have raised awareness of these issues and they both appear to be working.
“The government needs to match that kind of expenditure and take the safety of children and cyclists seriously.”
Shortly after the Coalition Government came to power in May 2010, the incoming Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond declared on his first day in office that “Labour's 13-year war on the motorist is over.”
He immediately slashed the road safety grant by 40 per cent from £95 million to £57 million, and scrapped government funding for new speed cameras, a decision criticised by opposition politicians, road safety campaigners and the Association of Chief Police Officers.
In 2011, the latest full year for which figures are available and reflecting the first full calendar year of the current government’s term, 1,901 people lost their lives on Britain’s roads, a 3 per cent increase on the previous 12 months and the first increase in eight years.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.