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Speed Consultation - Minister Reply 12 April 2006

Minister for Transport Phil Braidwood said

“The Hon Member for Rushen Mr Gill MHK has accused this Department of using prejudice and propaganda to the cost of tax payers in regard to its speed consultation and campaign. I believe therefore it is important to make the public aware that the costs of the campaign and consultation process are significantly less than the cost of 1 average road traffic accident and will be met by the Road Safety Initiative Budget. The Road Safety Initiative is a partnership comprising the Road Safety Unit, Highways Division and the Road Policing Unit of the Isle of Man Constabulary.

The campaign was designed to increase public awareness and stimulate debate on the speed issue and is therefore worthwhile. The Department does not argue that a national speed limit is the only answer, but it is a necessary part of the answer. Our campaign is focusing on a national maximum speed limit and because this is a contentious issue we feel it is essential to engage public opinion. As our campaign has been carefully planned, I am particularly disappointed and frankly appalled at Mr Gill’s comments that we are treating the consultation process as a “laughing exercise” and that we have no “sincere view”. These comments are distasteful, unwarranted, unjustified and untrue. As Minister for Transport I make no apology for a campaign to encourage the Island to face up to this life or death issue. Road crashes are the biggest cause of premature death among people under 50 on the Isle of Man. Those who survive high speed impacts frequently suffer traumatic brain injury – a consequence not often reported on, but which can have a devastating effect on people’s lives, including loss of occupation – a further cost for society. I would have been only too happy to discuss this issue with Mr Gill and am disappointed that he did not make arrangements to come in and see us, preferring to make political capital from the situation by going direct to the media. It is an uncomfortable issue politically and people are looking for red herrings to avoid confronting it. I would like to stress however that I have been encouraged by positive comments received from the general public’.

Bruce Hannay, Director of Highways says,

“ We strongly believe that the introduction of a national speed limit would make a real difference, ultimately saving peoples lives. Research undertaken in the UK and in other countries has shown that lowering vehicle speed reduces the severity of road traffic collisions and these findings cannot be ignored.”
“We recognise that some people might find our campaign a bit close to the mark, but the facts relating to road accidents caused by speeding vehicles are shocking and we felt that people needed to understand why all parties included in the Road Safety Initiative are leading this campaign for the introduction of a maximum speed limit on the Island.

The Department of Transport, through the Road Safety Initiative, is responsible for promoting road safety in the Isle of Man and we take that responsibility very seriously. Having formed a clear view on the evidence available that a national speed limit would help to reduce the loss of innocent lives on our roads, the Department has a duty to share that view with the public and to seek to progress the issue.”

Further information:

Data collected by the Police clearly shows that speed is the major contributor to accidents on the Isle of Man.

  • Between 1 January 2003 and 31 December 2005, there were 33 fatal and 210 serious Road Traffic Collisions on the Island’s road network. 39 people were killed and 233 were seriously injured. 30 of the 39 (77%) who lost their lives and 116 of the 233 (50%) who sustained serious injury, did so on roads with no speed limits.
  • 17 of the worst accident hotspots are on roads with no speed limit. The Snaefell Mountain Road accounts for 12 of our 30 worst locations and over 40% of the total number of accidents, of which between 60% and 90% are speed-related.

In addition to the immeasurable social cost of injury and death of innocent victims, in 2005 the bill to society for dealing with the aftermath of speed-related collisions was estimated at £11million - £145 for every person living in the Island.

The Department of Transport is keen to stress that everyone who lives on the Isle of Man will have the chance to have their say if they take part in the consultation process. If opinions differ at home, an additional questionnaire can be collected at the Department of Transport at the Sea Terminal, Central Government Offices Reception or your local post office, on request. Completed questionnaires are invited from Island residents only and they should not be duplicated. All replies should be received by 3rd May 2006 to be included in the consultation.

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