Councillors see red over colour-coded performance indicators for fatal crash targets in Atherstone and North Warwickshire

  Posted: 11.02.20 at 18:01 by Nick Hudson

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A local authority’s traffic-lights signalling of performance targets involving people killed and seriously injured in road accidents in Atherstone and across North Warwickshire has been dropped after councillors condemned it as inappropriate and insensitive.

Tory Councillor Margaret Bell launched a scathing attack on the presentation of a council report pointing to a “green for achievement” progress for 2019/20 to beating a previous year’s figure for serious crash casualties.

She told the authority’s Executive Board last night that more than seven per cent of the local population was involved in RTAs, two-and-a-half times the average.

“One in 10 were seriously injured on our roads and we are top of the accident list,” added Cllr Bell who said the incidence of being involved was too high.

She said it was time programmes were being identified for new junctions and improving road layouts as the borough had a “massive problem” on its hands.

Cllr Bell added: “We should be signalling this to Warwickshire County Council, not worrying about traffic-light indicators for performance targets.”

Her comments last night came as more than 5,000 people have been caught for speeding offences by Warwickshire Police in just two weeks of a month long operation aimed at reducing speeding in the county – and despite an ugent county-wide 'slow-down' plea by the force last month.

The red-amber-green traffic lights have been used to highlight corporate performance indicators on a whole host of subjects from the borough’s Local Plan progress; council response to all complaints and requests for service within three working days; the number of residential burglaries in the borough; to the numbers of people killed and seriously injured (KSIs) in RTAs.

A report reminded members of the use of traffic light indicators for the monitoring of the performance achieved.

A red meant the target had been missed, an amber circle denoted remedial action required, and green is on schedule.

The crime and disorder priority on KSIs had set a green traffic light for “achieving” the target.

But Councillor Bell was incensed by the use of the traffic light analogy in the borough targeting performance of fatal crashes.

And North Warwickshire’s Labour opposition leader Adam Farrell joined the debate, maintaining the method of identifying performance indicators was inappropriate and should not be about “one fewer person killed or seriously injured than last year”.

He said the idea of giving an amber signal on a target was “not necessary”, adding: “All we need to know is what the figure was last year.”

Councillor Farrell called for a change on the colour-coding practice. “We need a review of this,” adding: “The information is good but it is not being presented in the right way.”

Chief executive Steve Maxey agreed to remove the target traffic before the report returns to full council later in the month

Last month the Warwickshire force urged motorists to slow down and obey speed limits in a campaign aimed at reducing the number of people killed or seriously injured on the county’s roads

In Warwickshire, between the beginning of 2017 and the end of 2019, some 91 people were killed and 659 seriously injured in collisions where speed or loss of control was recorded as a contributory factor.

The police said it was even more concerning as nationally 49 per cent of speeding offences were committed in areas with designated 30mph speed limits, potentially putting the lives of pedestrians including children at risk.

Inspector Kirsty Clough said: “Speed limits are there to protect the public. The speed limit is a maximum not a target and driving too fast or at a speed inappropriate for the road environment or conditions means that drivers have less time to identify and react to what is happening around them.
Roads charity Brake added that car occupants are twice as likely to be killed on a country road than an urban road. More than half (51 pe cent) of fatal crashes in Britain occur on country roads

Speed is a major factor in country road crashes. A study of country single-carriageway roads estimated that a 10 per cent increase in average speed results in a 30 per cent increase in fatal and serious crashes

Worryingly, a Brake and Digby Brown survey found that one in three drivers – 33 per cent – admits driving too fast for safety on country roads, while one in five (19 per cent) admits breaking speed limits on country roads within the past year.

Four in 10 (37 per cent) have had a near-miss on country roads, while driving, walking or cycling.

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