From the child walking to school, to the commuter cycling or driving to work, the motorcyclist, and the lorry driver delivering goods to our stores, we are all rely on roads to get from A to B. Roads must be safe for all of us.
But although the UK has some of the safest roads in the world, five people still lose their lives from collisions every day. Not only is each of these a personal tragedy, but they come at a huge cost to our economy too – around 2% of annual GDP in the UK.
This week thousands of children, schools and colleges, workplaces and police officers from across the country will join together to call for action in Road Safety Week. The annual campaign reminds us how much more there is to do to make Wyre Forest a safer place to be.
The charity leading the campaign, Brake, are calling for everyone to look out for each other. We all share the road space, and all road users need to respect each other to make them safe places to be. It is not right that over two thirds of primary school children believe the roads in places like Wyre Forest are unsafe for walking and cycling.
Sadly recent figures show that progress on road safety is at risk. In the first half of this year we have seen worrying increases in the numbers of people killed and seriously injured on the roads. It should be a wake up call for the Government.
Progress on road safety demands strong leadership. That’s why the last Labour Government was right to make road safety a priority. There are now almost 17,000 fewer deaths or serious injuries in a year than there were in the mid-1990s.
I’m worried about the Tory-led Government’s attitude to safety. Why have they axed targets to cut deaths and serious injuries on our roads? Since 2010 they have failed to deliver improved young driver training and testing, have hiked HGV speed limits on flimsy evidence and cut the frontline police vital for traffic enforcement. The Government’s cuts have forced local councils to cut the numbers of lollipop men and women, who have helped children in Wyre Forest get to school for over 60 years.
A Labour Government will not tolerate the relegation of road safety. We will restore targets to focus minds and efforts on progress, prioritise the most vulnerable by ‘safety proofing’ roads for pedestrians and cyclists, and take action to make HGV’s safer too.
This week I’m supporting people in Wyre Forest to look out for each other on the roads. And I’m calling on the Government to end the complacency and commit to saving lives.