To consider the proposals set out in the report.
Terry Hughes, Community Safety Manager introduced a report that asked the JTB to consider the potential of a Near Miss Register which included the following comments:
- A motion at Full Council in February 2020 put forward a request for the cost, means and viability of establishing and maintaining a near-miss register to cover the roads in Tunbridge Wells.
- This would comprise of:
o A data base of near misses.
o A means to report near misses.
o The staff time and associated costs to establish and run the register.
o Integration of other data such as killed and seriously injured records.
- The implementation of a simple register would be easy to maintain and costs would be low. It would take an officer approximately two days to build and deploy the application and a further day to create the content and publish a web page.
- The success of a register would be dependent on the data submitted and therefore there was some concern as to whether the information received would result in changes to behaviour and improved safety.
- There was also concern that the register could be misused and there was the issue of the subjective accuracy of reporting.
- TWBC’s Community Safety Team would overlay the data with slight, killed and seriously injured data that was collected annually as part of the strategic assessment process.
- Kent Highways Team were happy for TWBC to produce a quarterly report to the crash data team which could then be reviewed with other collision data. However it should be noted that although the data might be useful exercise over the longer term, it would not necessarily improve or change the work they currently undertook with regards to casualty reduction measures.
- TWBC could use the data for other purposes, such as exercises in awareness.
Councillor Rands had registered to speak and provided the following statement:
“I last spoke on this matter in February when full council voted to it to the JTB. I must thank the officers who have in the intervening months worked on this project and come up with a cheap and easily implemented proposal.
I appreciate there will be scepticism in some quarters as to how a near-miss register will work. I note the report we have before us is lukewarm. I find that odd, because use of a near miss register has become the norm in many industries.
So what is it? We record the accidents that almost happen. A driver has to conduct an emergency stop to avoid hitting a pedestrian who steps into the road – that’s a near miss. A pedestrian has to jump back onto the pavement – that’s a near miss. There isn’t some mathematical formula we can use like if a car comes within 10cms it’s a near miss but if it’s 11 it’s okay. There’s a subjective judgement to be made and that’s absolutely fine because most people are neither insane not idiots. You know if an event was close to being an accident. And if there is the occasional dubious report it doesn’t matter. It would be very unusual indeed to act on a singular report. It is really that we would build a body evidence and look for patterns e.g. lots of near misses in a single area or at a particular time of day. Once you have that data we can start to look at why there is an issue.
It may be that we as TWBC can address that issue ourselves e.g. improving visibility by removing a parking space or trimming back branches. It may be that we can simply warn the public that there is an issue. Or it may be that we need to go to KCC, but we can go with the evidence.
One potential objection is cost, but the plan provided is cheap. The biggest expense is likely to be publicising the scheme, but actually as you can see from Friday’s Courier there is support for this and we can get our message out through local media. It's also worth saying that the commonly accepted figure for the cost of the state dealing with a death by dangerous driving is one million pounds. That includes investigation, court cases, jailing and imprisonment. Humanitarian concerns aside preventing a death is cheaper than waiting for one to happen.
One of the last jobs I had in the Army was with the defence safety authority. We investigated deaths and serious accidents primarily in training. One thing that was very obvious was that in most cases there had been a series of similar incidents which preceded the fatal incident and in retrospect it was obvious there was an issue. Initiating a near miss register would help us pick up on those warning signals before we have a death or serious injury.?”
Discussion and responses to questions raised included the following:
- The report included details of the experience in Lincolnshire and showed that it hadn’t been well used and had contributed little.
- A near-miss could be interpreted in a number of ways and was therefore difficult to quantify.
- It was suggested the scheme was an unnecessary burden to place on officers.
- The proposed scheme would be based on anecdotal evidence and would therefore be open to abuse.
- Decisions at Kent CC were evidence based, taken from police statistics on road accidents and recordings.
- Additional questions could be put to those reporting near-misses e.g. was the incident subject to an insurance claim, photographic evidence etc.
- Evidence could be linked in with published data e.g. Crashmat.co.uk.
- Any measures that could be used to improve the Council’s understanding of the types of incidents that were occurring would be beneficial.
- There was concern as to whether Kent CC had the resources to deal with the information they would receive from the register.
- There was concern that residents expectations would be raised if a number of near-misses were registered and that resources would be available for mitigation measures to be implemented.
- To note, the Crash Map data for the last 5 years showed no fatalities in Tunbridge Wells.
- Residents should be encouraged to report incidents and to become more aware of road safety issues in their area.
- The Transport Intelligence Team that lead and manage crash data at Kent CC had confirmed they would be happy to receive a quarterly report from TWBC.
- It was suggested the scheme be run as a pilot – a year would be a reasonable length of time to test.
- This sort of scheme had been successfully used in other industries and as a result, incident numbers had dropped.
- If other parts of the County expressed an interest in creating a near-miss register, it would increase the burden for Kent CC officers and would likely become unmanageable.
- A one year trial was the preferred option.
A vote was requested by the Chair of the JTB
Those in favour of a one year trial = 9
Those against a one year trial = 3
RESOLVED: That the near-miss register be subject to a one year trial.