Road Safety in London: Past Successes and Future Innovations

Road Safety in London: Past Successes and Future Innovations


Chris Lines, Transport for London, UK


Gives details of the successful programmes in London that have reduced road casualties by 40%, and achieved targets 5 years early. It goes on to identify new ideas and technology that can be introduced to make London even safer.


Past Successes

In November 2001, Ken Livingston, the Mayor of London, published a road safety strategy document that gave casualty reduction targets to be achieved by 2010. These target reductions in Killed and Seriously Injured (KSI) were from a baseline of the annual average of KSI between 1994 and 1998.

? 40% reduction in all KSI; Pedestrian KSI; Cyclist KSI, and Powered two Wheeler KSI.
? 50% reduction in child KSI (16 years and younger).
? 10% reduction in all slight casualties.

The strategy also identified partnership working as vital to achieving these reductions and brought together road safety stakeholders in the Pan London Road Safety Forum.

Focusing road safety activities has produced good results and since 2000, casualties have fallen every year in London. In 2004 KSI fell by 19%, with a 23% fall in cycle KSI and a 22% fall in KSI involving P2Ws. These reductions have largely been due to the application of tried and tested methods of the three road safety E?s - Engineering; Education and Enforcement.

Focusing engineering works at sites with relatively high casualties has continued to give excellent improvements; along with 20mph zones, which have given reductions of 57% in KSI. The enforcement activities have included installing over 600 cameras in London, which have helped to treat some of the sites where speeding has been the cause of collisions. Research shows fatal and serious casualties at camera sites fall by over 40%.

The Mayor?s transport strategy has focused on increasing cycling and walking in London, which have both risen in volume since 2000. Casualties in these vulnerable modes, however, have been falling recently, which means walking and cycling are getting safer as the network is adapted for the vulnerable modes. This is due to investment in facilities for cyclists, such as advanced stop lines at many signal junctions and cycle lanes on busy roads.

The numbers of Powered Two Wheelers (P2Ws) has been rising in London for many years, and P2W casualties have been rising along with this increase, until recently. Major advertising campaigns, aimed at both car drivers and motorcycle riders have raised the awareness of the dangers and consequences of hitting bikes.

Child casualties have been a particular concern to the Mayor. TfL funds the Children?s Traffic Club, which provides free information to all 3 year olds in London. This has proven to be very successful when used in other countries, and is an excellent long-term road safety investment.

Teenagers and young drivers are particularly vulnerable and TfL has several campaigns that bring home strong direct messages about the potential to loose your life on the roads. The ?don?t die before you?ve lived? campaign has used cinema, TV, radio and posters to get the message across.

All the above have contributed to large reductions in casualties in London, such that the targets set by the Mayor have been met already (all except those for motorcycles) ? some 5 years early. The Mayor has therefore recently decided to announce lower targets, with 50% reductions replacing the previous 40%, and 60% replacing 50% for children. The exception is for powered two wheelers, where the original 40% target is kept. The new target reduction for slight casualties is 25%. London is now leading the UK in terms of making the roads safer and we are looking forward to providing a safe environment for the 2012 Olympics.

Future Initiatives

While we intend to continue with the tried and tested methods, we are also keen to use new technology. ?Gatso? type speed cameras have proven to be very effective in reducing casualties and we hope to increase the numbers of new sites each year into the future. New technology digital cameras allow sites to be treated that were not possible in the past, due to the fact that they do not need to be visited to remove film.

While road humps and cushions do reduce speeds and make roads safer, they are not popular with car drivers and do disadvantage the emergency services. TfL is developing time-distance speed cameras to replace humps and cushions in 20mph zones. The boundaries to the zone are fitted with number plate reading cameras and the time of passing is recorded at the entry and exit from the zone. The elapsed travel time can be compared with distance travelled and an average speed calculated. If this exceeds the threshold, then the vehicle can be considered to be speeding and the appropriate action taken.

Long-term we are looking at speed limiters and intelligent speed adaptation in vehicles. Keeping to the speed limit could reduce casualties in London by over one-third, so the potential is very large. This would require a ?speed limit map? of London and GPS positioning in the vehicle. This allows the vehicle to know the current speed limit, which can be displayed to the driver, or used to limit the vehicle speed.


London has been very successful in reducing casualties over the past 3 to 4 years, largely using tried and tested methods, but over 200 people are still killed every year. These deaths and injuries are preventable and lots more needs to be done to make London a safe and environmentally friendly place to live, work and visit. New technologies have a role to play and we are confident that cameras and vehicle systems can be developed to become available in the near future.
tel: +44 (0) 20 7027 9334
fax; +44 (0) 20 7027 9337 5th January 2006


Association for European Transport