Published: 15:41, 29 June 2021
| Updated: 15:47, 29 June 2021
Kent road deaths will be cut by half over the next nine years, Kent council chiefs have pledged.
County Hall transport bosses put forward a firm commitment to improve the safety of roads for drivers in the 13 districts, including Medway, at a meeting today.
This comes alongside an ambitious target of halving human fatalities caused by driving accidents by 2050. This was debated by Kent county councillors.
On average, 45 people have died on Kent's motorway and rural roads every 12 months for the last five years and it is hoped this will be significantly reduced.
Aside from the devastating human cost road deaths cost councils £99 million a year.
Kent County Council's (KCC) transport department said it was "optimistic" about saving the lives of at least 22 more people by 2030 during today's virtual meeting.
Simon Jones, who is KCC's interim corporate director for transport, said: "This is our progression of how we want to start looking more closely at road safety."
His comments come during a virtual meeting involving 16 councillors from different parties.
Under the plan, long-term solutions proposed include: introducing 20mph speed zones, with two already created in Faversham and Tonbridge last year; deploying more speed cameras; and technological car advancements.
Other ideas have been considered, such as redesigning streets around schools to make them safer, reducing speed limits on A roads and more enforcement.
It has been accepted by KCC chiefs that "humans make mistakes" but the key aim is to significantly reduce errors resulting in life-changing injuries or deaths.
However, some Kent county councillors were sceptical of the practicalities of the vision laid out during a lengthy hour-long debate involving senior officers.
Margate county Cllr Barry Lewis (Lab), who questioned how it would be funded, said: "If we want to do it by 2050 we had better get a move on."
The Department for Transport has estimated the costs of dealing with a road death at around £2.2million, with councils paying £2,000 a week for some injuries which require 24-hour care.
Tonbridge and Malling county Cllr Harry Rayner (Con) called for improvements to be made to the A20 London Road junction in Wrotham, following a serious crash involving two motorcyclists by the former Oakdene Cafe last week, leading to 12-hour queues.
Maidstone county Cllr Ian Chittenden (Lib Dem) was upbeat about the vision, hoping for close co-operation between KCC, police, ambulance and fire crews.
Commenting on the initiative, he said: "My experience in the past shows it is possible with substantially cutting deaths and injuries."
Cheriton Sandgate and Hythe East county Cllr Rory Love (Con) warned that mistakes at the wheel and mechanical faults with cars could lead to crashes.
He said: "We have to be careful to create a target that we are unable to reach. It's a triumph of sound bites over rationality."
Concluding, KCC's transport committee agreed that the road action plan would be adopted by the authority over the next five years.