Posted by: dorsetcpre | May 31, 2012

£140 Million – The Cost of Dorset’s Failure

Road Ahead Closed ImageFor the last 12 years Dorset County Council has failed to reach every one of its annual Government Targets for reducing the number of persons killed or seriously injured on its roads. Dorset’s total failure is unique amongst England’s thirty-four Shire Counties.

During the twelve years 1999–2010, 357 persons were killed and 3,155 seriously injured on the roads of Dorset. This is 43 more killed and 405 more seriously injured than would have been the case if the Council’s Targets had been met. On a percentage basis this is the worst performance of any Shire County. The Government’s estimate of the value of the benefits to society of preventing these excess casualties is £140.4 million. This includes the human costs, an amount to reflect pain, grief and suffering, as well as direct economic costs.

Dorset has also recorded the worst performance of any Shire County in meeting Government Targets for reducing the number of children killed or seriously injured. It has failed to meet its Target in eight out of twelve years.

Dorset’s cumulative Target for the period 1999-2010 was not to exceed 222 children killed or seriously injured. The actual number recorded was 251. No other County has failed to reach its cumulative Target. If it had been reached, 29 children would have been saved from death or serious injury. In the past the Council has blamed its poor road safety record on the County’s relative lack of dual carriageway road. There has never been any significant evidence to support this view and statistical analysis has shown that only 5% of failure to reduce casualties can be attributed to this effect, leaving 95% to be explained by other causes.

Dorset County Council has a highly respected innovative team of Road Safety Officers. However, from its inception, until only very recently, it has been starved of resources. It needs a recurring generous budget that would enable far more projects to be implemented. The reason for this neglect is that, historically, the Council has been firmly focussed on new road building as its top transport priority. As an example, the Weymouth Relief Road cost the Dorset Council Tax Payer £18.3 million (from April 1992) and the UK Tax Payer a further £80.1 million. If the scheme is in place for 60 years it is projected to save two lives in that period and bring about an annual reduction of 2 seriously injured. Measures other than increasing road capacity have been identified that would bring about this reduction more quickly and at considerably less cost.

by Dr David Peacock

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