TRL's response to roads policing review call for evidence

In summer 2020, the Department for Transport (DfT) launched a call for evidence following a roads policing review, to help explore the who, the how and the governance of future enforcement.

Published on 22 January 2021

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TRL's mission is to create clean, efficient transport that is safe, reliable and accessible for everyone. We believe that roads policing has a role to play in all aspects of this mission. TRL believe that the way enforcement is perceived by road users is critical for effectiveness. The safety of our roads relies on road users knowing and respecting the rules and behaving in accordance with them. This is made easier when people understand that inappropriate behaviour will be detected and dealt with swiftly and proportionately.

In our response to the consultation TRL suggest that to improve road safety, there should be a review of the following:

  • Allocation of road safety budget with more consideration given to speed in general and on rural roads, where most serious incidents and injuries occur.
  • The implementation of a comprehensive safe-system approach that includes all elements of safe speeds, safe vehicles, safe road users, safe roads and good post-crash response. 

In addition:
  • Adoption of different policies for distinct user groups e.g. GDL and professional drivers
  • Safe speeds as part of a safe-system approach, including the use of speed cameras which research has found to demonstrate a relationship between enforcement and compliance
  • In order to increase compliance alongside enforcement, TRL propose a strategy based on the 3 E's: Engineering, Enforcement and Education. Engineering improvements to roads and vehicles has been shown to have the biggest effect, followed by consistent enforcement, backed up by education about the road rules that people should be following.

    To encourage behaviour change, we recommend that education and enforcement activities should try to focus on what the ‘normal’ behaviour should be, rather than drawing attention to the behaviours that are undesirable.

    One of the major limitations of research in this area is that it is extremely difficult to run proper studies from which causality can be inferred on enforcement, as enforcement is already happening. Proper controlled trials of different approaches could be undertaken if research funding were made available.

    Finally, TRL acknowledges that transport needs to reduce its carbon footprint and that considerable improvements to air quality on our roads are urgently needed to avoid negative health impacts of transport. While not the immediate focus of the questions in this call for evidence, TRL believe that the principles of certain, swift and proportionate enforcement of the rules applies to all desired outcomes for making our roads cleaner and safer for everyone.

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