Saving the six hundred

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It’s 10 years since Blackpool Council first introduced its 30 or Less campaign – so why run yet another campaign for the same?

The answer rests in the road safety statistics. At first sight they are heartening. Greater awareness of 30mph zones have virtually halved serious injuries and reduced fatalities on our roads.

In 2002 – ahead of the campaign starting in 2003 – there were 10 fatalities and 95 serious casualties on resort roads. Last year there were two fatalities - and 52 serious injuries.

Overall, says Blackpool’s travel and road safety manager Carol Bracegirdle, that’s a reduction of 48 per cent. And slight injuries are down, in the decade, by 25 per cent. In all the total number of injuries have dropped from 867 in 2002 to 620 last year.

But as ever it pays to read between the lines. And the bottom line is by now road traffic casualties really should have dropped further. Instead they seem to have stuck at around the 600 mark, 620 last year, 596 in 2011, 695 in 2010 and so on.

Now Carol is determined to save the 600.“I just don’t think it’s acceptable for 600 or more people to be injured on our roads.”

Carol doesn’t believe in widespread adoption of the 20’s Plenty campaign supported by Lancashire County Council. “I’d rather target areas identified as being in need of such. It’s been successful on Grange Park, for instance, but we failed in getting one for Marton – after locals protested. If nothing else it shows we listen, we don’t impose. Having a 20mph zone doesn’t necessarily mean that drivers stick to 20mph but they are no longer driving at 30-40mph.”

The campaign started when the Government calculated that locals and visitors had more chance of becoming a road traffic casualty in Blackpool than anywhere else in the country. Children were seen as particularly vulnerable.

Carol speculates that such figures tend to go in tandem with social deprivation and other factors. Children running around, playing on roads in urban areas, motorists taking short cuts through built up areas, more than our fair share of drunks on the streets.

A closer look at the figures reveals that most of the casualties are adult. But of the 95 who suffered serious injuries in 2002, 23 were under 16 years old, which reduced to five (of the 52) last year. That’s a massive reduction in the numbers of children killed or seriously injured.

“Down 78 per cent,” adds Carol, who praises safety measures in and around school roads or residential areas, or the 20’s Plenty zones in 10 parts of town identified as potential hotspots. “And for all the initial outcry about the Layton road redevelopment scheme it’s been a great success,” adds Carol. “There’s been a marked reduction in accidents there.”

For much the same reason she says the Shared Space Promenade has cut accidents. “I certainly wouldn’t want a return the old four lane system,” she admits. Carol also agrees the need for a third pedestrian crossing.

“I also think, more importantly, it’s going to be in the right place.”

Her team work in liaison with others. “Every month we have a highways project meeting where we look at highway needs, planning applications, replacement of traffic signals, any utility work that may impact on us or emergency work, Project 30 (pothole repairs) and more. We try to minimise disruption – we’ve been resurfacing School Road over half term, for instance, although the frosty weather legislated against us.” She’s also part of the drive for sustainable “We’ve got a really good public transport network here which is taken for granted – and the trams are excellent.”

All but three roads in Blackpool (Progress Way, Yeadon Way, the end of Preston New Road) have a 30mph speed limit or less.

Carol adds: “We don’t want to be looking at 600 road traffic casualties a year 10 years down the line – so we’ve created our own objectives to improve road safety. By 2020 we want to reduce the annual total of those killed and seriously injured by at least 33 per cent based on the 2006-2010 average of 79. We want to reduce the annual total of children and young people (aged up to 17 as more will be staying in education longer) killed and seriously injured by at least 40 per cent based on the average of 18. And reduce by at least 50 per cent the numbers of pedestrians and cyclists killed or seriously injured.”

The average for 2006-10 is 46 (36 pedestrians and 10 cyclists).

She concludes: “When people sign up to the Blackpool is 30 or less campaign they pledge to keep to speed limit, and the vehicle they are driving then becomes a ‘mobile speed hum’ slowing traffic to the speed limit and setting an example to other drivers.”

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