Kent County Council launches ambitious safe systems approach as it aims for zero fatalities on its roads by 2050

Kent County Council (KCC) has announced it is aiming for zero fatalities on its roads each year by 2050.

The council has started public consultation on the new road safety strategy which promotes shared responsibility for reducing road injuries. The council said that while it was taking the lead, the strategy will only succeed if ‘everyone’ in the county shared the responsibility to reduce road danger, the fear it creates and the casualties that result.

To achieve Vision Zero, Kent County Council proposes adopting the ‘Safe Systems’ approach, which is rooted in the belief that every traffic death reflects a failure in the system, and that none are acceptable.

Safe Systems puts the human being at its core, accepting that even the most conscientious person may make a mistake at some point. The goal of Safe Systems is to ensure that these mistakes do not lead to a crash or, if a crash does occur, it is sufficiently controlled to not cause a death or a life-changing injury, said the council.

KCC Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport Michael Payne said: “Some people might say that achieving zero road fatalities is impossible. If they were to see each fatality as a human being, or even a member of their own family, rather than simply a statistic, would they still not wish to set zero fatalities as the ambition?

“Zero is the only sensible target to strive towards and this is why, over the next 30 years, we will endeavour to get as close to it as possible. The response to COVID-19 has also shown that, with the right ambition and by working together, a great deal can be achieved.

“Vision Zero for Kent will only be possible if all of us – whether we are travelling in Kent, managing a fleet of vehicles, teaching at school, managing the highway network or simply using the highway as a resident – share a responsibility to reduce road danger, the fear it creates and the casualties that result.

“Kent County Council commits to lead the Vision Zero concept and promote it across the whole of Kent. This includes the ambition for continuous improvement in the way that Kent Highways and Transportation promote road safety and provide improvement schemes, to ensure that Kent County Council does all that it can to make the roads, streets, towns and villages of our wonderful county safer for everyone.”

Safe Systems includes five pillars which are all linked:

  • Safe roads and streets – designing highways to reduce the chances and consequences of collisions.
  • Safe speeds – designing roads and enforcing speed limits appropriate to the usage and environment.
  • Safe behaviours – road safety education, training, promotion, engineering, enforcement, and technology to improve the way people use Kent’s roads and streets.
  • Safe vehicles – ensure the vehicles on the Kent network are as safe as they can be by promoting safer technology for cars, vans and lorries.
  • Post Collision Response – react as quickly as possible to crashes, study the causes of the most serious collisions, and provide support for the victims of road crashes.

This shared responsibility among those designing and using the transport system means if Vision Zero is to succeed, it will depend on Kent’s public sharing Kent County Council’s ambition.

Community Circle is KCC’s approach to help achieve Vision Zero in Kent, proactively engaging with communities and it includes:

  • Community Concern by aligning injury collision data with factors that strengthen the case for intervention, such as concerns about speed, air quality and noise
  • Injury reduction will remain a priority but feeling safe and quality of life are also important
  • Research and pilot new approaches including average speed camera corridors and other initiatives
  • Common responsibility for safety including road users, the local community and highway authority
  • Localised campaigns focused on casualty cluster sites
  • Engagement with the community at cluster sites to discuss solutions together

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