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69th ROAD SAFETY CONGRESS OPENING ADDRESS

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					          69th ROAD SAFETY CONGRESS
          Protecting Vulnerable Road Users
                      1 - 3 March 2004

            CONGRESS PROCEEDINGS



                  OPENING ADDRESS



                 Dr Brian Gibbons AM
Deputy Minister for Economic Development and Transport
             National Assembly for Wales




                    RoSPA in association with
                          RoSPA Road Safety Congress 1 - 3 March 2004
                                       “Opening Address”
           Dr Brian Gibbons AM, Deputy Minister for Economic Development and Transport
                                  National Assembly for Wales



                                   OPENING ADDRESS


                                   Dr Brian Gibbons AM
             Deputy Minister for Economic Development and Transport
                           National Assembly for Wales



Thank you for inviting me to address your Congress.


It’s a real pleasure to be with you because as one of the oldest and largest safety
organisations in Europe I am well aware of the high regard in which your organisation
is held.


Here in Wales we have had a long and close relationship with RoSPA. And I am
delighted to see Steve Baker - RoSPA's Road Safety Manager for Wales here today.


As a partner in the Road Safety Council for Wales, Steve and his colleagues in RoSPA
work in tandem not only with the Assembly Government but also with local authorities
and the police in the development and co-ordination of our national campaigns in
Wales.


And we are grateful for all RoSPA have done in contributing to the road safety agenda
here in Wales over the years.


I am therefore pleased to welcome this national congress to Wales. Indeed I believe
that this is only the second time that RoSPA's congress has been held in Wales. And if
I may say so you have chosen a very opportune time to return.


As many of you will no doubt know today is St David's Day. A day when all of Wales
unites in celebration of all that is best in Wales. So it is a great time to have brought
this congress to Wales.


As well as wishing you all a happy St David's Day - I do hope that over the next couple
of days you will take the opportunity to see more of Wales. You are guaranteed a most
hospitable welcome.




Road Safety Congress 2004                                                            Page 1 of 6
                           RoSPA Road Safety Congress 1 - 3 March 2004
                                        “Opening Address”
            Dr Brian Gibbons AM, Deputy Minister for Economic Development and Transport
                                   National Assembly for Wales


I always find events such as these very encouraging.


I know I speak for the entire Assembly Government and indeed for the whole of Wales
in saying that we truly value the contribution made by many organisations in road
safety. Local Authorities, charities, businesses – and many dedicated individuals too in
the wider community, all play an active and welcome part.


To be part of an event that brings together so many people who are working hard to
improve safety on our roads is something that we can all draw great strength and
renewed vigour from.


Any responsible Government must have as its first priority the need to ensure that its
citizens are able to live in a safe and secure environment.


Safety on our roads is part and parcel of securing that safe environment. And to
building the strong and secure communities that are a priority of this Assembly
Government.


In discharging my role as Chair of the Welsh Road Safety Forum, I know only too well
the paramount importance of our roads being as safe as they can be.


Unsafe roads destroy lives and damage families.


Whilst we can all acknowledge and welcome the decline in the number of deaths and
serious injuries on our roads - we also all know that much more can be done.


None of us wants to hear news of a road accident involving someone close to us.
However that unfortunate reality is brought home to far too many families in the form of
injury and loss of life.


So however well we are doing in improving road safety there is simply no room for
complacency. Where people's lives are at risk we must always seek to redouble our
efforts to build a safer environment in which people can go about their daily business.




Road Safety Congress 2004                                                             Page 2 of 6
                          RoSPA Road Safety Congress 1 - 3 March 2004
                                       “Opening Address”
           Dr Brian Gibbons AM, Deputy Minister for Economic Development and Transport
                                  National Assembly for Wales
As a Government we are pursuing an inclusive approach to the issue of road safety.
We are working with communities, with individuals and with partners in the public and
private sectors. We are building on the fulsome support of the entire community for
safer roads.


In January last year we launched our own Road Safety Strategy. A strategy that
builds on the one launched by the Prime Minister some four years ago.


I expect that you'll all be familiar with the targets we have set ourselves. No doubt, like
us, many of you will have been working with those targets in mind over the last four
years.


Progress is being made. We have made additional resources available to local
authorities. Almost eighteen million pounds were made available in the last four years.


These funds have helped local authorities to deliver on road safety in their
communities. For example by responding to long standing road safety problems, using
traffic management, or engineering measures or indeed by enhancing road safety
education, training and publicity.


What we have found is this funding helps deliver a safer Wales. Those sites improved
through special grant funding have seen an overall reduction in personal injury
accidents. That is no coincidence.


So we are building on that work. We will shortly be announcing a further allocation of
approximately seven million pounds to local authorities next year.


We want to see local authorities create more 20-mph zones and limits. This is
particularly important of course in residential areas, especially near schools. And we
are committing the funds to help them achieve that.


But it is not only about money.




Road Safety Congress 2004                                                            Page 3 of 6
                           RoSPA Road Safety Congress 1 - 3 March 2004
                                        “Opening Address”
            Dr Brian Gibbons AM, Deputy Minister for Economic Development and Transport
                                   National Assembly for Wales
We all know how important it is for children to learn about traffic dangers from an early
age. Indeed the theme of this conference is how we go about protecting the most
vulnerable road users.


The young in our society suffer highest risk and bear the most severe consequences.
They make up a disproportionate number of fatalities on our roads.


How we can reduce risk and casualties amongst this grouping are one of the most
important challenges we all face.


In that endeavour we cannot underestimate the power of education. Lessons learnt
from early training provide the foundation on which to build road safety education and
training in later years.


A child who becomes aware of the basics of how to use roads safely at a formative age
will carry that message through to later life when he or she becomes a safety
conscious driver.


Of course children take on information best when their interest is maintained. In that
vein I am particularly pleased by some of the more innovative measures that are being
used to raise awareness of the road safety message amongst children.


For example, I am aware there are now many theatre companies touring schools with
productions aimed at teaching road safety through drama.


We must ensure that all children are given the opportunity to develop the skills and
knowledge they need to use roads safely.


And to this end we have provided funding to every local authority to employ a child
pedestrian training co-ordinator whose job it is to set up local schemes and to recruit
parent volunteers to do the training.


This initiative is already reaping results with several thousand pupils benefiting from
this type of training.




Road Safety Congress 2004                                                             Page 4 of 6
                          RoSPA Road Safety Congress 1 - 3 March 2004
                                       “Opening Address”
           Dr Brian Gibbons AM, Deputy Minister for Economic Development and Transport
                                  National Assembly for Wales
Equally important is the work being done to improve the safety of children on their
journey to and from school. Our Safe Routes to School Initiative is doing just that. We
have allocated just over £15 million to projects across Wales and I am pleased to say
the initiative continues to attract widespread praise.


Indeed I am only to well aware of the success of Safe Routes to School. In Sandfields
in my constituency we have a project that has resulted in more children walking and
cycling to school. Furthermore, the implementation of a 20-mph zone has meant a
dramatic drop in the number of personal injury accidents.


Of course the benefits are not just about road safety. There are spin off benefits.
Walking and cycling to school every day can give children an opportunity to get more
exercise - an issue of increasing concern as we seek to encourage a healthier, more
active society, particularly amongst the young.


I hope the message that I have left you with is that in the Assembly Government you
have a willing partner in targeting road safety as a key issue of public concern.


Your congress has an important role to play in contributing to the debate on how we
take this issue forward. Over the next few days I know that a variety of speakers will
address a number of topics.


And I look forward with interest to reading about the outcome of your deliberations. I
am sure these will contribute to the road safety effort in Wales and throughout the
United Kingdom.


Prince Michael International Road Safety Award


But before I leave I have one final, very important contribution to make to your
proceedings. That is the presentation of the Prince Michael International Road Safety
Award.


We all know the safest way for children to travel in cars is in a child seat suitable for
their weight and size. This demands the seat is of good quality, is properly fitted and is
compatible with the car and child.




Road Safety Congress 2004                                                            Page 5 of 6
                          RoSPA Road Safety Congress 1 - 3 March 2004
                                       “Opening Address”
           Dr Brian Gibbons AM, Deputy Minister for Economic Development and Transport
                                  National Assembly for Wales
Unfortunately we also know there remain a significant proportion of child seats that are
not properly fitted or indeed compatible with the child or individual car. This of course
reduces their safety impact.


We also know from the evidence of surveys that people receive little or no advice on
how to fit child seat's. Responsible parents and others who travel with children in their
cars would like more advice.


To meet this need for better information, RoSPA with funding from the Department for
Transport, developed a website dedicated to providing advice to the public about using
child car restraints - www.childcarseats.org.uk.


I am pleased to hear in its first year of operation the website has been visited by almost
200,000 people. That is 200,000 people who thanks to the website are now more
aware of how to properly fit a child seat that could guarantee the safety of their child.


This success has been recognised by a Prince Michael International Road Safety
Award. And I am delighted to have the pleasure of presenting that award to Kevin
Clinton as recognition of the RoSPA website's outstanding contribution to improving
road safety.


I am sure you will join me in congratulating Kevin and the entire team at RoSPA. Well
done.




Road Safety Congress 2004                                                            Page 6 of 6

				
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