Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety
The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) is a registered charity and an associate Parliamentary group of the UK parliament. Its charitable objective is: To protect human life through the promotion of transport safety for the public benefit. Its annual accounts and trustees review of the year can be accessed via the Charity Commission’s website. Its Parliamentary officers and a list of donations received over the value of £1250 can be seen on the Parliament website.
PACTS was founded in the debate about the compulsory wearing of seatbelts in the fronts of cars in 1981. Its current chair, Barry Sheerman MP, was instrumental in moving an amendment to the 1981 Transport Act to ensure that seatbelt wearing became a requirement. More recently, it helped to ensure that powers to use evidential roadside breath testing equipment were made available to the police and that the police were given the power to seize uninsured vehicles through the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.
PACTS has an annual membership of over 150 organisations and individuals. To inform its work, it brings together expertise and knowledge from the public, private and professional sectors, comprising insurers, car manufacturers, police and emergency services, local authorities, research institutions and road user groups. It seeks to use this expertise to provide independent, research-based technical advice to Parliamentarians.
Members also provide technical expertise through a structure of working parties. These look at road user behaviour, vehicle design, the road environment, aviation and rail safety. Chaired by independent and respected experts in the field, these enable PACTS to maintain its current knowledge and understanding of the issues facing transport safety.
It organises the prestigious annual Westminster Lecture on Transport Safety to help disseminate key research and knowledge about transport safety. Those invited to give the lecture have included Professor Danny Dorling (Sheffield University), Professor Oliver Carsten (Leeds University Institute for Transport Studies), Dr Jillian Anable (Aberdeen University) and Professor Fred Wegman (SWOV – the Dutch road safety research institute).
As part of its educational work, it also organises two conferences a year, usually held in October and March. These offer an opportunity for practitioners and researchers to debate key research findings and to evaluate examples of current practice in transport safety. Recent conferences have covered driving while impaired, the challenges for transport of an ageing population and aiming for zero.
Recognising the importance of the European dimension in transport safety, PACTS was a co-founder of the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) which is based in Brussels. This brings together representative organisations across the EU and occupies a similar position to PACTS in relation to the European Parliament and Commission.
A key priority for PACTS in the current Parliament is for the United Kingdom to adopt a more strategic approach to casualty reduction. International evidence shows clearly that a target for casualty reduction supported by a strategic aim such as Vision Zero is the most effective approach to improving safety. In its report “Beyond 2010” published in 2007, PACTS argued for the UK to adopt such an approach, possibly based on the approach taken towards managing risk to a level as low as reasonably practical. Improving the safety of young drivers is a high current priority.
PACTS also publishes regular research reports, the most recent being on safe mobility for an ageing population (March 2012). These contain recommendations to government and to transport providers to ensure that safety for all transport users is improved.