SAFETY PROCESS. Martin Small

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1 SAFETY PROCESS Martin Small With a broad transport policy background including extensive work in the maritime sector, Martin Small has been working in road safety for five years, in a variety of roles and organisations. Ministry of Transport ( ) Martin led the Ministry of Transport, Land Transport Safety Authority and Police team successfully seeking policy approvals, and introducing legislation into Parliament, for a range of safety proposals. These included: the new photographic driver licence with mandatory carriage, increased minimum driving age (subsequently voted down in 1998), and licence suspension and vehicle impoundment for serious and repeat traffic offenders. While not yet formally evaluated, vehicle impoundment is associated with a 28% reduction in driving while disqualified convictions, and a substantial reduction in deaths and injuries associated with disqualified or never licensed drivers. ACC Injury Prevention ( ) As Road Safety Programme Manager of the Accident Compensation Corporation (New Zealand s compulsory motor vehicle injury insurer), Martin established the ACC Stop Bus programme with Police, beginning in Canterbury and Auckland. This enhanced alcohol enforcement programme was designed to substantially reduce alcohol-related injuries. He also developed ACC's Down with Speed programme an education programme aimed at informing key community influencers about the devastating impact that speeding has on road trauma. Land Transport Safety Authority (since July 2000) Martin joined the LTSA in July 2000 as Manager Safety Strategy. Having been involved in the evidence based Road Safety Strategy 2010 for the previous two and a half years on a partnership basis, he now has specific responsibilities for this work. This has included managing the consultation process for the proposed strategy, finalising proposals for government in response to that consultation process, and developing a three year interagency work programme to begin implementing the strategy. Alan A Parker Alan is Vice President of the Town and Country Planning Association and from time to time is employed as a bicycle/pedestrian planning consultant. He has fifty years experience as a bicyclist and made seat-of-the-saddle inspections of bicycle and pedestrian facilities in 12 Dutch cities. Alan wrote the book "Safe Cycling: a defensive strategy for Melbourne" in Since then has written 100 or so articles on bicycle planning and safety issues, mostly in "Australian Cyclist", the journal of the Bicycle Federation of Australia. He was a founder member of the Bicycle Federation of Australia.

2 ROAD SAFETY STRATEGY 2010: CYCLING STATUS Martin Small Manager Safety Strategy Land Transport Safety Authority The government is currently considering its response to an extensive public consultation process on a proposed Road Safety Strategy This brief paper summarises the current level of safety for cyclists on our roads, discusses the status of cycling within the proposed Road Safety Strategy 2010, notes some of the broad findings of the consultation process, and addresses some specific issues raised during that consultation process. There are significant points of common interest for cycling interests within the proposed Road Safety Strategy Cycle Safety Along with all other road users, cyclists are benefiting from a significantly safer roading network than ten years ago, as the table below showing changes in the number of fatalities illustrates % change Drivers % Passengers % Pedestrians % Motorcyclists % Cyclists % TOTAL % An analysis of travel survey data carried out in 2000 by the LTSA illustrated improved safety on the basis of both kilometres and hours cycled. The analysis showed that between 1989/90 and 1997/98 the number of cycle fatalities per 100 million kilometres cycled decreased by 21%, and the number of fatalities per million hours spent cycling decreased by 4.5%. A key factor in this improvement has been an increase in the use of cycle helmets. Helmet wearing in 2001 remained steady at 94%, with a return in the secondary school rate to 93%. Helmets became compulsory in 1994, increasing wearing rates from 60-65% in 1992/93 to 94-96% from 1997 to With increased helmet use, cyclist head injuries have decreased, accounting for 22% of all hospitalised cyclists in the year to March 2001, compared with 29% in 1996 and 1995, 35% in 1993 and 42% in Looking at recent fatality and injury data, it is apparent that: In the 12 months to March 2001, 252 cyclists were hospitalised as a result of crashes involving cars. Over the past decade the average annual decline in cyclist hospitalisations has been 4.4%. In the 12 months to the end of June 2001, 7 cyclists were killed in road crashes. This is 15 fewer than in the previous 12 months, and brings the road toll for cyclists to below the average of 14 for the past 5 years. While cyclists comprise only 3% of all fatalities, no fatalities on the roading network are acceptable. More can still be done to improve the safety of cycling. Background to the Road Safety Strategy 2010 With New Zealand s road safety targets expiring in December 2001, the National Road Safety Committee has been directing the development of a new Road Safety Strategy This includes a new set of targets that will be backed up by new or enhanced road safety interventions, and a new performance management framework with accountability assurances for the Strategy s implementation. New Zealand is set to achieve the 1995 National Road Safety Plan s performance targets of 11 deaths per 100,000 population and 1.6 deaths per 10,000 vehicles. However, with traffic growth it is likely that this performance will plateau without new investment and new interventions. A new strategic platform,

3 built upon a greater emphasis on the safety of the road environment, will help ensure continued improvement over the next decade. Internationally, it is recognised that diminishing safety returns can be expected from strategic enforcement programmes. It is also recognised that although driver behaviour contributes to most crashes, the most effective remedy may not always be to reform the road user. It can sometimes be more effective to improve the roading environment or the vehicles, as such improvements can reduce the number of crashes and their severity, regardless of the direct cause. Some of the better performing countries are currently focussing on the road network itself in their road safety strategies. Focus on cyclists and pedestrians The proposed Strategy supported the view that our roads must be made safer for cyclists and pedestrians, who are at much greater risk in any encounter with a motor vehicle. Cyclists clearly emerged as a category of road users that require a special road safety focus. For example, with most cycling injuries occurring on urban roads, the most effective measures may include speed reduction measures, cycle lanes, intersection improvements and, where appropriate, cycle paths. Despite the small amount of cycling on rural roads, they account for half of all cyclists deaths, so rural road and bridge standards may also deserve attention to ensure there is enough room for cyclists, segregated where appropriate. Specific safety targets are proposed in the Road Safety Strategy 2010 for cyclists and pedestrians. Improving the capacity of the roading network to safely accommodate cyclists and pedestrians should support their increased use of the network. Three-yearly reviews of the strategy are proposed to allow any changes in transport use to be taken into account and amendments to the strategy made where necessary. At the broadest level, therefore, the proposed strategy set out a framework of accountability to the safety of cyclists. The Consultation Process Late last year the proposed strategy document was released for nationwide consultation. The purpose of the consultation was to get a broad steer from all interested parties on the level of safety New Zealand should be aiming for, and the preferred option for getting there: enforcement based, engineering based, or a mixture of the two. Specific questions were also asked about whether people were prepared to pay for more safety, and whether targets for specific groups were required. A media campaign and a number of public meetings were held, and we received over 850 written submissions. There was a clear message from the consultation process that the public wanted a higher level of safety on the roads, and strong endorsement for a target set at no more than 295 fatalities by 2010 a level equivalent to where the safest countries in the world are now. There was broad support for a mix of enforcement and engineering measures, weighted more towards enforcement, and many people wanted various forms of education to play a larger part in the final Strategy. In response to the question about paying for increased safety, many people were not prepared to pay anything over and above the current road user taxes. There was strong support for a range of targets proposed in the Strategy document, including cyclist and pedestrian safety targets. Many cyclists and cycling groups made submissions on the proposed Strategy, and put forward a range of views on cycle safety and possible solutions to specific problems. Some of these comments are addressed below. In broad terms, however, the consultation process indicated a high level of common interest between cycling interests and the proposed strategy. Clearly, cyclists are looking for safer access to the road network. This is very consistent with the proposed strategy, which identified the road environment as a principal unit of analysis and recognised that cyclists should be better accommodated in the design and operation of the road network. Speed management was a fundamental element of the proposed strategy, and cyclists clearly identified urban speed enforcement as a key issue in their safety. Finally, while education was presented in the proposed strategy as having the demonstrable ability to enhance the effectiveness of other interventions, cyclists and other interests clearly sought greater direction in this area. This will be necessary in any final strategy. Promotion of cycling as sustainable transport A significant number of submissions promoted cycling as a sustainable form of transport. They expressed the view that the health benefits of cycling outweigh the safety risks, and that because of this it should be more strongly promoted by government as a means of transport.

4 While cycling and walking provide good forms of physical activity, and there are health benefits to be gained from undertaking either activity, it is unknown whether, or in what circumstances, the health benefits of cycling outweigh the risks of injury to cyclists. A British Medical Association report is claimed by many commentators to indicate that the years added to a regular cyclist s life through cycling outweigh the statistical years lost by any increased crash risk of cycling compared with motorised transport, by a factor of 20:1. The indicative analysis carried out actually refers to regular exercise rather than regular cycling. Leaving aside other difficulties in the analysis, which are fully acknowledged by the authors, this means that (notwithstanding the obvious health benefits of cycling), the health benefits have been exaggerated because most people, including cyclists, gain their exercise from a variety of physical activities. As the British Medical Association report notes whilst the fatalityrate for cyclists per kilometre travelled is over eleven times the rate for motorists, compared with cycling, car travel is more deleterious to health unless the motorist is able to exercise several times a week by other means that will maintain fitness. The wider transport issue of encouraging sustainable modes of transport is not within the brief of the Road Safety Strategy Any final strategy to improve road safety cannot be undertaken in isolation from wider society. It is important that a road safety strategy complements, and does not run counter to, other relevant government strategies, such as the government s health strategy. It will also need to fit within an overall transport strategy, and how that reflects the needs of different modes. While the proposed Road Safety Strategy 2010 does not directly address the promotion of healthy exercise in its own right, providing safe access for all road users to the road network is a significant focus. To the extent that the road network safely accommodates cycling, any growth in cycling will contribute to the objective of achieving more healthy exercise. Cycle helmets Some cycling advocates consider that cycle helmets discourage people from cycling. Australian research (Robinson 1996) concluded that making helmet wearing compulsory caused a reduction in the number of people cycling, and that the adverse health effects of this (ie in discouraging exercise) were greater than the adverse effects of not wearing a helmet while cycling. Kyp Kypri of the IPRU also commented in his paper on preventing cycling injuries, presented at the 2000 cycling conference in Palmerston North, that he believed that compulsory helmet wearing affected people s decision to cycle to work. There is no evidence to support the claim that mandatory cycle helmet wearing reduces cycling. It is true that the numbers of people cycling have declined, but there are other factors that may have contributed to this effect over the past 10 years or so. For example, the reduction in the cost of motorised transport brought about by cheaper vehicles and cheaper fuel has made travel by car more affordable. Research on cycle helmet effectiveness in New Zealand (Povey et al, 1999) showed that the increase in helmet wearing associated with the passing of the compulsory helmet wearing law in 1994 reduced head injuries by between 24% and 32% in crashes not involving motor vehicles, and by 20% in crashes involving motor vehicles. Allowance was made in this study for the overall decrease in the number of cyclists. Studies in other jurisdictions have also shown substantial reductions in head injury associated with cycle helmet wearing. Helmets provide a simple active protection for cyclists, similar to motorcycle helmets and safety belts. New Zealand has a helmet wearing rate of around 94%, which is quite high, and compares well to the adult front safety belt wearing rate of 92%, but there is room for improvement. Data collection and targets Cycling advocates have expressed concern that insufficient data is collected about cycling, and that if road safety targets for cyclists are set on the basis of numbers hospitalised, road controlling authorities could achieve their targets by trying to decrease the overall number of people cycling, rather than by making the roads safer for cyclists. They say that cyclist and pedestrian road user targets should be exposure based. A preferred target would be crashes per number of hours cycled or per number of kilometres cycled. The New Zealand Travel Survey, carried out in 1989/90 and 1997/98, collected information about cycling in terms of kilometres and hours cycled. Consideration is being given to the possibility of conducting regular and frequent travel surveys that would support exposure based safety targets for cyclists.

5 Another data collection issue raised in submissions was that cycle crashes that do not involve a motor vehicle are not reported by the police. Therefore crashes caused by the road environment rather than by a collision with a car are under-represented in the statistics. The annual LTSA publication Motor Accidents in New Zealand includes a table showing hospitalisation data about cycle crashes that do not involve motor vehicles. It shows numbers of cyclists hospitalised, by age and sex. There is scope for more detailed cycle crash data to be entered onto the Crash Analysis System (CAS), but work is needed at a local level to ensure the data is collected. The legal mechanism already in place for collection of crash data: Section 22(3) of the Land Transport Act 1998 states that if an accident involves an injury to or the death of a person, the driver or rider must report the accident in person at the nearest police station or to an enforcement officer as soon as reasonably practicable and within 24 hours of the crash. Summary Cyclists and pedestrians were a significant focus for the proposed Road Safety Strategy As the government provides direction to the overall road safety effort over the next decade, the LTSA looks forward to identifying common areas of agreement with cycling groups, helping develop effective solutions to road safety issues affecting cyclists, and creating a safer cycling environment in New Zealand. References Motor Accidents in New Zealand Land Transport Safety Authority. Travel Survey report 1997/1998. Land Transport Safety Authority and Road Safety Trust, National Road Safety Committee. Road Safety Strategy 2010-a consultation document Frith, WJ. What Travel Survey information tells us about cycling and cycle safety in New Zealand. Presented at New Zealand Cycling Symposium, July British Medical Association. Cycling: towards health and safety. Oxford University Press, Povey, LJ, Frith, WJ, Graham PG. Cycle helmet effectiveness in New Zealand. Accident Analysis and Prevention 31, 1999 Robinson, DL. Head injuries and bicycle helmet laws. Accident Analysis and Prevention 28, 1996 Scuffham, PA et al. Head injuries to bicyclists. Accident Analysis and Prevention 32, Kypri, Kyp and Wright, C. Thinking outside the frame: opportunities in the prevention of cycling injury. Presented a New Zealand Cycling Symposium, July 2000.

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