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South West Peninsula Road Safety Partnership

The South West Peninsula Road Safety Partnership is a strategic and operational collaboration of organisations, committed to working with people and communities, to reduce the number and severity of personal injury collisions - particularly those resulting in death or serious injury, across the road network of Devon and Cornwall. This page outlines its strategy to achieve that.

The organisations involved in the partnership are shown here
The organisations involved in the partnership are shown here


The UK has some of the safest roads in the world, but the effects of every death or serious injury on our roads are devastating, for the bereaved, for families and loved ones, and for those who support the seriously injured, some of whom may have long-term life-changing injuries.

Between 2000-2010 the UK Government’s road safety strategy was “Britain’s Roads – Safer for Everyone”.  Challenging national targets were set during this time with a clear expectation that local highway authorities and their partners would contribute towards the achievement of the national target through local action.  Across Devon and Cornwall, these reduction targets were met and in some cases exceeded.

However, despite the success of the previous decade, since 2008 there has been an increasing trend in the recorded number of seriously injured casualties across the road network of Devon and Cornwall. 

The number of fatalities recorded each year during this period has fluctuated whilst the trend has remained static as the following tables show.




In total, between 2008 and 2018, 612 people died and a further 7711were seriously injured ( Data source DfT RAS300038 adjusted serious injury figures).

In June 2019 strategic leaders from across the Devon and Cornwall Peninsula met and agreed that we can no longer keep doing the same things in the same way, if we want to improve and acknowledged that the success during the decade 2000 to 2010 and the relatively low baseline achieved over this period will make any further reduction in KSI’s challenging.

This meeting unanimously agreed to take action to reverse this trend, by strengthening our collective efforts and forming a new South West Peninsula Road Safety Partnership, based on a Safe System approach. 

This strategy and its associated delivery plans are intended to provide a framework through which this new partnership can turn its commitment to improving road safety into a reality.

Our commitment

The South West Peninsula Road Safety Partnership is a strategic and operational collaboration of organisations, committed to working with people and communities, to reduce the number and severity of personal injury collisions - particularly those resulting in death or serious injury, across the road network of Devon and Cornwall (including Plymouth, Torbay the Isles of Scilly and local sections of the national strategic network).

  • We believe that no one should be killed or seriously injured as a consequence of using our road network and that we have a moral duty to work together to preserve life, prevent harm and make our communities safer.

  • We recognise no single agency can achieve road safety improvements in isolation and that a strong partnership, working together with our communities, based on a Safe System approach is key to achieving our vision and strategic aims.

 Our partnership principles

The following principles will guide the way we work together as a partnership:

  • We will promote this strategy within our own organisations;

  • We will collaborate with each other and co-ordinate use of resources;

  • We will maximise opportunities to invest in road safety;

  • We will engage with and involve our communities and stakeholders in delivering our aims;

  • We will be evidence led and explore innovative solutions.

 Vision Zero

 ‘Our shared vision is for the road network of Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly to be free from death and serious injury.’

This vision should not be regarded as a short or medium term casualty reduction target but reflects our aspirations for the long term and a shared view that death and serious injury should not be an acceptable consequence of using our road network. 

Strategic aims

 To deliver our vision, we will work together in partnership, to drive changes which:

  • Prevent death and serious injury as a consequence of using our road network and;
  • Improve our post collision response and care

Milestone targets

We believe the time is right to introduce formal and challenging targets to which all partners can subscribe and as an incremental step toward achieving our vision and strategic aims we have agreed the following collective milestone targets for the peninsula:

  •  Reduction in the number of road related deaths by 50% by 2030;
  •  Reduction in the number of road related serious injury casualties by 50% by 2030.

(Baseline = average numbers recorded between 2014 and 2018 inclusive.)

Strategic policy context

In May 2011, The Department for Transport released “The Strategic Framework for Road Safety” to coincide with the launch of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020.  Although the Department for Transport (DfT) at that time consulted on national targets for 2020, none were set. Instead a Road Safety Outcomes Framework was established to help local authorities to assess and prioritise their actions.

The Department for Transport (DfT) recently published their 2019 Road Safety Statement ‘A Lifetime of Road Safety’  which echoes priorities contained in our strategy and the focus for the work ahead. It recognises the need for road safety to begin the moment a new-born leaves hospital and continues throughout their life into old age.  In principle it covers every mile travelled by any mode.

It also sets out its work programme for the next two years with a focus on four priority road user groups - Young Road Users, Rural Road Users, Motorcyclists and Older Vulnerable Road Users all of which are heavily represented in the casualty profile for Devon and Cornwall.

The DfT 2019 Road Safety Statement also outlines actions within the Safe System approach and the need to move forward by adopting an integrated partnership approach to road safety. 

Within the document, DfT acknowledges “it is not a matter of specific targets, dates or timelines.  It is a commitment to the idea that road deaths and casualties are not merely the result of poor driving, centrally relevant though that is, but of a transport system as a whole, from signage to road user education, from enforcement to infrastructure design and construction.” 

The UK Government will continue to lead the way in improving road safety but acknowledges that it cannot act effectively in isolation. The DfT is therefore encouraging the bringing together of the efforts of local highway authorities as holders of the statutory duty for road safety and those who share the common aspiration to reduce road casualties to work together to achieve safer roads.

Despite the absence of any UK casualty reduction targets, in 2017 Transport ministers of the Member States of the European Union meeting in Valletta, reconfirmed their commitment to a long-term target of reducing death and serious injury within the EU by 50% by 2030 with the long-term intention of zero deaths by 2050.

Local policy context

The national casualty reduction targets set for the decade 2000 to 2010 were challenging, across Devon and Cornwall targets for overall KSI reduction by 2010 were 40%, and for children of 15 years and under, the target was 50%.  These targets were met and exceeded – in some cases met early enough for authorities to be invited to work towards ‘stretched’ targets.  Where this was the case, these were also met.

The absence of national targets since 2011 has led to a mixed landscape of highway authorities adopting local targets – with some setting formal targets and others tracking performance but without time and outcome defined targets.

In 2018 as an initial scoping exercise, a review was conducted of partner’s strategies within the Devon and Cornwall Safety Camera Partnership which revealed significant common ground across the peninsula, with all making reference to casualty reduction or improved road safety as a strategic aim and the majority having adopted ‘Vision Zero’ and Safe System methodology, together with specific casualty reduction targets.

There are a number of well-established operational partnerships working within the Devon and Cornwall peninsula either dedicated to road safety (for example the Devon and Cornwall Safety Camera Partnership and the Learn-2-Live Partnership) or with road safety as an in-scope activity (for example some community safety partnerships), however, there has been no formal strategic level partnership comprising organisations operating throughout the spectrum of road safety activity across the peninsula as a whole.

Our challenge

Local Context

In 2018 Devon and Cornwall accounted for 3.15% of the population of England ( Office of National Statistics, mid-year population estimate 2018) and 3.7% of England’s registered vehicles (Veh0105 vehicle licensing statistics).  In particular the region has proportionally more motorcycles, light goods vehicles and ‘other’ vehicles (including agricultural, ambulances, diggers etc) than across the rest of England (Veh0105 vehicle licensing statistics).

Devon and Cornwall has an extensive road network of 22000km which is predominantly rural in nature with some significant arterial routes through the peninsula and a number of high risk routes.

The nature of our region’s geography and the rurality factor makes independent travel a significant requirement for much of our population ( In England on average a person makes 787 trips, covering 6,530 miles, accounting for 377 hours travelling annually. With the average trip length being 6.6 miles and taking 22.9 minutes. (National Travel Survey 2018)).  

Between 2013-2017, where data is held, 66% of collisions occurred on rural roads in Devon and Cornwall (Police stats 19 data, 56% of collisions status is unknown, the remaining 44% is 66% rural and 34% urban). In addition, of the 18,896 collisions during this period, 30% occurred on A-roads, 11% on B-roads, 8% on C-roads and just 1% on M-roads ( Police stats 19 data, a further 51% were unclassified).  This likely reflects the road types within the two counties, with less than 30km of motorway.

National research indicates no single underlying factor drives road casualties, it is a complex issue subject to a range of influences, however, the majority of road collisions are avoidable (Dept for Transport Reported road casualties in Great Britain: annual report 2018 page 19).  Also, whilst collision factors suggest that road user behaviour is a common factor in the majority of collisions, the solutions are more complex.  Safe System thinking accepts that human error is a weakness in the System and that solutions need to account for this rather than focussing solely on attempting to eliminate it.

To better understand the underlying factors for Devon and Cornwall, in December 2018, a recognised road safety research organisation was commissioned to undertake an in-depth analysis of road safety outcomes over the previous five years, as experienced by resident communities and observed on the road network.

This analysis also examined road safety issues from a wider public health perspective and considered the different possible strategies for influencing the behaviour of those road user groups identified as being at highest risk.

This is the first occasion we have undertaken an exercise such as this across the peninsula as a whole. It provides us with our unique ‘Area Profile’ ( Area Profile for Devon and Cornwall – Agilysis Transport Safety and Behaviour Consultants) and an insight into high risk road user groups, high risk routes and finally risky behaviours which will be used to inform the development of our partnership delivery plan. 

High risk road user groups

The following diagrams show the groups identified in our ‘Area Profile’ as being over-represented in road casualty data in comparison to their population size within the region and their prevalence across the peninsula. 







High risk behaviours and contributory factors

Each collision is assigned a contributory factors by police officers in attendance, these factors can be grouped and summarised as follows for the period 2013-2017.



In addition to the above, the Devon and Cornwall Police together with a number of other Forces in England and Wales, highlight the following as the main behaviours/contributory factors or determinants of severity of injury which feature in the majority of fatal and serious injury collisions:

  • Inappropriate or excessive speed;

  • Not wearing a seat belt;

  • Driver distractions including mobile devices such as phones, ‘sat navs’ and tablets;

  • Driving under the influence of drink or drugs;

  • Careless and inconsiderate driving.

These factors are commonly referred to as ‘The Fatal Five’, addressing these through enforcement and education will feature as part of our delivery plan.

In addition to the factors above, being medically unfit to drive  featured in the majority of areas across the Peninsula. This will require further analysis to understand the underlying reasons for this in order to inform our approach.

High risk routes

The Area Profile identifies the worst performing routes for collisions across the Peninsula, however, currently the four Local Highways Authorities and Highways England use different approaches to identify these within the own areas of responsibility and as such these may be at variance with our Area Profile.

In the first instance, we will focus on the A38 between Bodmin and Plymouth which varies in standard with a number of safety, reliability, severance and air quality issues, leaving it vulnerable to incidents and disruption. Those killed and seriously injured on some sections of this route are nearly 3.5 times the national average.

It is for this reason that we have agreed to select the above as a pilot route, with the intention of producing a framework for a multi-agency approach which brings together all of our resources and expertise using Safe System methodology.

Once developed, over the next two to three years, we will apply this framework to our top 10 high risk routes as identified through an agreed risk analysis approach.

Our approach

Our strategy and delivery plan will be based on a Safe System methodology which has at its centre the following principles:

  • Even the most conscientious person will make a mistake at some point;

  • People are vulnerable and there are physical limits to what the human body can tolerate;

  • Responsibility for reducing danger is shared by everyone;

  • All parts of the system must be strengthened in combination to multiply their effects, so that people are still protected if one part of the system fails.

The ultimate goal of Safe System is to ensure that mistakes do not lead to a collision; or, if a collision does occur, it is sufficiently controlled so as not to cause a death or a life-changing injury.

In addition to these core principles, Safe System employs a framework of interventions through five pillars of action:

Safe Roads  Safe Speeds  Safe Vehicles   Safe Road Users   Post Collision Response

Our strategy will follow the principles of the Safe System approach, and our programme of interventions will be based around these five pillars of action.


Monitoring and evaluation

In October 2018 the Parliamentary Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) published a series of recommendations to the UK Government for the introduction of Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s to measure the effectiveness of the Safe system approach).

It recommends that the UK monitors a set of eight key indicators to show changes in the underlying safety of the road system. These support our casualty reduction targets and will be considered for implementation by the partnership where possible. 

The indicators are:

  1. Percentage of traffic complying with speed limits on national roads;

  2. Percentage of traffic complying with speed limits on local roads;

  3. Percentage of drivers who do not drive after consuming alcohol or drugs;

  4. Percentage of car occupants using a seat belt / child seat;

  5. Proportion of drivers not using an in-car phone (hand held or hands free);

  6. Percentage of new passenger cars with highest Euro NCAP safety rating;

  7. Percentage of roads with appropriate iRAP safety rating;

  8. Percentage of emergency medical services arriving at accident scene within 18 minutes.

In addition to the eight key indicators recommended by PACTS, for each priority area within our delivery plan, we will establish a baseline and additional KPI’s or other measures for evaluating the effectiveness of our interventions.

For Post-Crash Response, there are currently no measures other than response times for emergency services and it is our intention to develop a set of KPI’s that will enable us to track reduction in severity of injury taking into account the data held by health partners.

The aim of the partnership are to reduce both death and serious injury collisions, accordingly  we have not set a reduction target for all reported injury collisions.  However, this will also be closely monitored to provide a wider context to KSI reduction performance and will be included within a performance dashboard for the partnership to be published once the delivery plans have been fully developed.

Implementing the strategy

Given the complex multi-agency and multi-sectoral context of Safe System methodology, it requires careful leadership by senior management of partner organisations to bring together the unique contribution of each agency.

This is reflected in the governance structure for our partnership set out in Appendix ‘A’, which consists of a Partnership Board, Operational Delivery Group and Task and Finish Groups.

The Board will provide the strategic governance for the partnership and the platform from which partners can work together more effectively and efficiently to achieve our strategic aims. Membership includes strategic representatives for partner organisations as well as elected representatives from Local Authorities.

The Operational Delivery Group (ODG) is accountable to the Board and responsible for the development and implementation of a delivery plan. 

The ODG will identify a lead partner to establish a task and finish group and develop plans to address each of the following priority themes identified within in our Area Profile:-

  • Young drivers – 16 to 24;

  • Motorcyclists – All ages;

  • Older drivers – 60 +;

  • Business drivers;

  • Cyclists;

  • Pedestrians;

  • High-risk routes ;

  • Post-crash response and care.

Stakeholder and community involvement

At all levels we will ensure that the views of a broad range of other stakeholders, partners and communities of interest are taken into account by the Board, Operational Delivery Group and task and finish groups. 

To facilitate this, we will develop both a communication and stakeholder involvement plan to ensure that people and communities are connected into and involved in our work across the peninsula.  

The Safe System ethos acknowledges the essential, active role that individual road users must play in making the system safe.  As such our relationship with communities, individuals and other stakeholders will be collaborative and based on clear expectations of contributions to the casualty reduction effort from all parties.

Links and Interdependencies

The Safe System approach aligns road safety management with broader ethical, social, economic and environmental goals and although our primary focus will be casualty reduction, a strong multi agency partnership will also provide us with the opportunity to address other problems associated with road traffic, such as congestion, noise, air pollution and lack of physical exercise.

Community safety and fear of harm

Road safety concerns are frequently raised through regular engagement activity, in particular with Local Authorities and the Police in the exercise of their wider community safety responsibilities.

Perceptions of risk and harm have a direct impact on travel choices and can increase the reliance on travel by car for short distances.

Conversely, a road network sufficiently free from harm; risk of harm and fear of harm supports wider environmental and public health ambitions and encourages and sustains the adoption of healthier, active modes of travel.



By making our road network safer and feel safer this strategy will contribute to these wider aspirations.

Regional transport

The Cities and Local Government Devolution Act makes provision for the establishment and constitution of Sub-National Transport Bodies (STB) for any area in England (outside of Greater London).

Although the establishment of an STB as a statutory body requires approval from Government and a Statutory Instrument must be agreed by Parliament, each of the Local Authorities for Devon, Cornwall, Torbay, Plymouth and Somerset have agreed to establish a shadow body which will operate until and if a statutory body is established.

The purpose and functions of the shadow STB are wide ranging but include the development of a sub national transport strategy for the South West Peninsula, development of an evidence base to identify and prioritise schemes and provide the focus for a single conversation on strategic transport and infrastructure related activities.

Although our partnership is not currently a formal member of the South West STB, our intention is to strengthen our relationship and support the STB with its approach to road safety.

Social and economic cost

The following table sets out the estimated total value of prevention of reported KSI’s for Devon and Cornwall between 2008 and 2018 ( Based on the standard DfT calculation RAS60.)

Estimated cost of fatal/serious injury casualties Devon and Cornwall 2008 to 2018

Casualty type

Cost per casualty

Number of casualties

Total cost





Serious injury








This sum encompasses all aspects of the valuation of casualties, including human costs which reflect pain, grief and suffering; the direct economic cost of lost output and the medical cost associated with road casualties.

This sum does not include unreported collisions or those which result in minor or no injury which if included would add significantly to this figure.