Agenda item

Road Safety Strategy for Solihull 2017-30 - Update Report

This report provides an overview of the Council’s Road Safety statutory duty and the range of services and Partnership Working that contribute to reducing the number of road traffic collisions in Solihull.


In attendance: Paul Tovey (Solihull MBC - Head of Highway Management); Ryan Forrester (West Midlands Fire Service – Solihull Station Commander); Peter Allington (West Midlands Fire Service – Road Casualty Reduction Team Lead); and Tracey Vaccarezza (Solihull MBC – Sustainable Travel Officer).

The Board considered a detailed report and presentation which provided an overview of the Council’s Road Safety statutory duty together with the range of services, supported by key Partners, that contributed to reducing the number of road traffic collisions in Solihull.

The report also explained the current strategies, delivered through the Road Safety Partnership, working both at regional and local level. Casualty reduction performance data was also submitted together with the Strategy’s delivery action plan and key priorities.

Prior to the start of the meeting, West Midlands Fire Service (WMFS) had showcased how they used Virtual Reality headset technology to provide immersive learning videos to support the road safety education agenda.

The Board was invited to review the latest position and make any recommendations to the Partnership and theCabinet Member (Environment & Infrastructure) for the next coming years within the strategy period (2017-2030).

Having considered the report, the Board asked the following questions and made the following observations:

·  Cllr J O’Nyons highlighted that the data presented confirmed that road safety had continued to improve in Solihull over the last two decades, and particularly since 2000. Officers were asked how Solihull’s data compared with other local authorities across the region and how successful 20 mph speed limits had been. The Head of Highway Management advised that Solihull performed very well in comparison with the rest of the West Midlands. Solihull currently had the lowest casualty rate in the region, and at one stage, Solihull had the fourth lowest casualty rate in England. Later this year, several post-implementation surveys would be undertaken to evaluate the effectiveness of 20 mph speed limits. Officers highlighted that longer term benefits were evident over time as more schemes were introduced, and drivers became more accustomed to lower speed limits around areas such as schools.

·  Cllr A Feeney commented that all wards within Solihull had their own local issues arising from vehicle speeds. Referring to his appointment as a Solihull MBC member representative on the West Midlands Police and Crime Panel, Cllr Feeney drew attention to a request made to the WM Police and Crime Commissioner to bring a future strategic report on all aspects of regional road safety to that Panel with particular input from the Police perspective. Of concern was the perceived lack of consequences to some speeding motorists, particularly those identified through Speed Watch who would only receive an advisory letter. Additionally, the WM Police and Crime Panel had discussed the effectiveness of partnership arrangements between the Police and local authorities to ensure projects such as new safety camera sites were not unduly delayed, and funding streams identified. Reference was also made to the HS2 Road Safety Fund proposed schemes for 2022 to 2024. Cllr Feeney highlighted the three proposed A452 gap closures (initial study) and expressed concern that doing so would contribute to higher vehicle speeds in those locations. The proposed B4118 Water Orton Road traffic calming scheme was, however, supported. The importance of ongoing education was emphasised to change driver behaviour and the 30 mph wheelie bin sticker initiative needed to be monitored and updated in residential areas that now had 20 mph zones to avoid confusion. The Head of Highway Management acknowledged all the points raised.

·  Cllr B Groom highlighted the road casualty data taken over the last 3-year average and asked if the effects of the pandemic (i.e. reduced road usage) had been factored into future decision making. Additionally, the education of younger people was highlighted together with the importance of having effective outreach initiatives in place to target particularly the 17 to 25 year old age group. The Head of Highway Management confirmed the effect of the pandemic had been taken account of in trend analysis. The Strategy period was 2017 to 2030, and there was still a number of years, post-pandemic, for data collection to recover and to evaluate what effect changes in daily routines (e.g. more people now working from home) had on future road safety statistics.

·  Cllr S Sheshabhatter asked for further clarification on the triggers for local speed analysis (and the correct reporting channels for residents); how e-scooters were factored into the Strategy; the process to set up new Speed Watch areas; and what role CCTV played in road safety. The Head of Highway Management advised that there were many publicised options for residents to report local road safety concerns, one of the most visible being the “Report-it” function on the homepage of Requests were reviewed bi-annually to evaluate trends which were then taken forward as appropriate. Officers also highlighted that a lot of collisions were not caused by excessive vehicle speeds but, in fact, poor vehicle maintenance, weather conditions, driver impairment (including medical episodes). In terms of e-scooters, Officers reported that they were an emerging form of powered transport so they were treated the same as a motor vehicle and governed by motoring legislation, albeit it was not lawful to ride one on the public highway (outside of an official trial-site) as owners could not obtain insurance for them. Safety legislation and safety equipment also needed to be clarified and implemented. Regarding the use of CCTV, the Head of Highway Management advised that new technologies such as ANPR average-speed cameras were expensive to install and operate, albeit there were now several locations within Solihull where this type of equipment was now installed. Officers highlighted, particularly, new changes in legislation for moving traffic contraventions which would utilise CCTV enforcement and the business case for Solihull that was currently being developed.

·  Cllr P Hogarth MBE highlighted the age profiles of motorists most at risk of being killed or seriously injured (or causing harm to a third party) and in doing so, drew attention to the A34 Stratford Road being of particular concern regarding vehicle speeds along the main retail section. The Head of Highway Management advised that the new safety cameras (operational from Monday 16 January 2023) from the Marshall Lake Road junction to the M42 were expected to have a significant effect on vehicle speeds. The Heart of Shirley did not lend itself well to that type of speed enforcement and Officers highlighted existing solutions such as physical traffic calming and engineering measures that were already in place. In response to a separate question, the Board was advised that the length of M42 motorway network within the Borough boundary was also included within Solihull’s overall collision data.

·  Cllr G Sleigh asked for further detail regarding the multi-agency road safety exercises and how the locations for those events were identified; the scope for greater use of wheelie bin stickers to highlight local speed limits; and the use of passively safe lamp columns. The Head of Highway Management explained that the latter (including some signage columns) were designed to absorb the energy from a collision and lessen the risk of serious injury to the driver and passengers. The wheelie bin stickers initiative was managed by the Police and current allocations had been done as part of previous Community Speed Watch exercises. MARSO exercises were planned around spacious locations on key parts of the network where a high number of vehicles could be taken off the highway for inspection.

·  Cllr M Carthew drew attention to a reference to the permanent vehicle activated sign in Olton Hollow (2010) and sought confirmation that it was either no longer there or inoperable. Traffic calming schemes, such as in Berkswell Village, were perceived to have been successful and Officers were asked if there was any scope for some of the design elements of those former schemes to be replicated elsewhere (e.g. Dovehouse Lane) to lower vehicle speeds and make initiatives to encourage cycling more viable. Additionally, confirmation was sought of cross-boundary working with neighbouring authorities. The Head of Highway Management confirmed that vehicle activated signage had now moved from that location in Olton. Good results had also been seen from the traffic calming measures in Berkswell which were considered appropriate and sympathetic to a rural village environment. The Board noted that not all traffic calming designs and engineering measures were suitable to all locations. Cross-boundary coordination was undertaken at regional level and strong working relationships existed between Birmingham, Coventry and Warwickshire.

·  Cllr B Donnelly highlighted the valuable work of the Community Speed Watch volunteers and urged other locations to come forward and participate in the initiative. Cllr Donnelly also drew attention to the importance of good standards of road maintenance to avoid injury to road users and pedestrians. Examples were given of problems associated with works on the highway when, in some instances, that caused a perceived risk to road users due to poorly designed/managed roadworks. The use of road markings using intelligent/new technology was also highlighted and clarification sought on their application and use. The Head of Highway Management advised that Category 1 defects on the highway (regardless of asset ownership) would be guarded and repaired/made safe within a couple of hours. Intelligent road studs were activated by approaching vehicles and whilst the costs of that apparatus were high, they were being used at some locations in Solihull which benefited from that type of technology.

·  Cllr P Hogarth MBE drew attention to the Seven Star Road/Lode Lane junction and stated that the signalling at that junction should be reviewed to make that junction safer. The Head of Highway Management highlighted the regulatory and physical limitations at that location which hindered the design and implementation of further carriageway and signalling refinements.

·  The Chairman referred to the hotspot locations for road traffic collisions (with injury) and asked for the current data for those trends. The Head of Highway Management confirmed that the indicative data within the Strategy was for 2013 to 2015 (i.e. to accompany the publication of the Strategy in 2017). Updated data could now be provided and circulated following the meeting, although it was anticipated that the Borough hotspots would remain the same. Regarding the single site analysis data and in response to a question to clarify elements of the appendices, the Chairman was advised that for the 2022/2023 schemes, part of that collision analysis indicated that some analysis had either been completed (or were soon to be), and other analysis indicated that schemes were not viable but would be kept under review. The Head of Highway Management confirmed that collision data and trend monitoring was undertaken continuously, and action taken were data and trend analysis indicated a need to do so.


That, the Board UNANIMOUSLY makes the following RECOMMENDATIONS to the Solihull Road Safety Partnership and the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Environment & Infrastructure:

That, subject to the observations and comments recorded in the preamble above, the Board:

(i)  Welcomes the progress made towards road casualty reduction at this stage in the Strategy period;

(ii)  Acknowledges the importance of effective Partnership working in road casualty reduction at both regional and local levels;

(iii)  Acknowledges the high value of community-based initiatives such as Speed Watch. In doing so, the Board encourages new groups of volunteers to come forward to maintain the future viability of those exercises; and

(iv)  Endorses all ongoing and future work to promote casualty reduction via effective and timely educational events and targeted campaigns, particularly working with young people and higher risk groups to make the road network safer for all users.


Supporting documents: