The prevention of road accidents is not being given the attention it deserves in the run-up next month's general election, road safety charities have warned.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) said that politicians have missed a golden opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to reducing "entirely preventable" numbers of youngsters killed on Britain's roads. The RAC believes a lot more needs to be done to make our roads safer, with a green paper on safety a paramount priority for the next government.
The IAM's CEO Sarah Sillars said that the major political parties' manifestos have instead swept the issue underneath the carpet.
Latest figures underscore Ms Sillars' concern. Road incidents are the main cause of death for young people aged from five to 19 across Wales and England.
Only two other causes trump road accidents for being the most common cause of dying for 20-34-year-olds.
RAC head of external affairs Pete Williams said: "The recent increase in child fatalities and casualties in England and Wales is a worrying trend. Combined with the fact that road accidents account for such an alarmingly high number of deaths among 20 to 30- year-olds, it's clear that a lot more needs to be done to make roads safer.
"While some of the motoring promises from the main political parties are encouraging, road safety and road safety education must be seen as a priority. The RAC would like to see the next Government to address the urgent need to invest in high-profile campaigns to tackle some of the worst driving behaviours. This should include clearly placing road safety education on the national curriculum for school children, and for that matter, all road users."
Political parties have largely failed to announce any firm plans to combat the problems in their manifestos. The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats all make mention of helping only cyclists in their official pre-election pledges.
Labour does, however, mention backing the long-term financing of strategic car routes and reversing local road neglect. Its recent promise to spend £300 million filling in upwards of 24 million potholes falls way short of the £12 billion the Asphalt Industry Alliance 's (AIA) officials claim are needed.
This is even though the IAM's March poll showed that road users want potholes tackled before anything else.
The Liberal Democrats' manifesto talks about keeping bike users safe, while UKIP promises to fit extra speed cameras to deter accidents in dangerous areas.
The Greens are the only party to substantially highlight road safety as a main issue.
The party's manifesto includes plans to reduce rural road speed limits to 40mph, and 20mph for residential areas. It also wants to lower drink-drive restrictions as far as possible. Safer, technology-assisted lorries are also mentioned in the policy statement.
Pete Williams says: "The next Government should look to publish a green paper on how to improve safety amongst young drivers, looking at areas such as Graduated Driver Licences . Despite announcing an intention to publish a green paper, the Coalition Government did not follow through in producing one.
"As the motorists' champion we are committed to helping to educate children on how to stay safe and be seen around roads and vehicles. The RAC has teamed up with the DfT's THINK! Campaign and Aardman Animations to bring our very own road safety mascot Horace Champion to life. We are determined to equip a whole new generation with the knowledge that is needed to help prevent more children and adults being killed or seriously injured on Britain's roads."
The IAM has an eight-point plan in its own manifesto which it would like the winners of the May 7 election to employ.
It includes making sure older motorists stay safer for longer; lowering the dangers for young drivers and safeguarding the vulnerable.
Copyright Press Association 2015
https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/making-roads-safer/supporting-pages/road-safety-campaigns (DfT's THINK! Campaign)