The consultation document 'Safe Roads, Safe Communities', which will form the basis of the assembly's new Road Safety Programme, was officially launched at the Wales Road Safety conference at University College of Wales, Aberystwyth.
'Last year there were 14,087 road traffic casualties in Wales. Of these, 169 were killed and 1,652 seriously injured. The long-term misery caused, both to those who are injured and to their families, is immeasurable.
Ms Essex said the draft document included key recommendations for improving road safety across Wales by considering a range of proactive measures, including:
* Engineering solutions - such as physical traffic calming measures, improved lighting and changes to road alignment
* Environmental design solutions - such as introduction of frequent crossing points, residential 20mph zones and widening of footways
* Road safety promotion and education solutions - such as pre-driving test training courses for 15-15 age group, interactive computer programmes for schools and cycle training competitions
* Enforcement solutions - such as use of technology, intelligence-led targeting enforcement and high-visibility policing
Ms Essex said: 'It is vital that we are proactive in reducing road traffic casualties in Wales, and the trauma of road traffic accidents. Over the past two years I have made£6.7m available directly to local authorities to help them deliver improvements to road safety in their local communities.
'I know this additional money has been warmly welcomed by the local authorities and road safety organisations and has been viewed as an important boost to road safety throughout Wales.
'Much has already been achieved. For example, as part of its Road Safety Strategy, Powys CC has a policy for introducing 20mph zones outside all its schools that are situated on local authority roads. Other local authorities have commissioned theatre companies to tour local schools with productions aimed at teaching road safety through drama.'
Ms Essex added: 'In addition our Safe Routes to Schools initiative has attracted universal praise since funding was first allocated in 1999-2000.
'To date we have allocated nearly£5m projects to reduce traffic congestion and encourage children back to a healthy lifestyle by walking or cycling to school. A further£6million has been allocated to the scheme over the next three years.
'But we cannot be complacent when much more needs to be done. This consultation document is an important step forward in developing a Road Safety Strategy for Wales which will address Welsh problems and suggest solutions that will form a basis of a Welsh road safety programme.'
The consultation document 'Safe Roads, Safe Communities' is available by post from Transport Policy 3 Division, National Assembly for Wales, Cathays Park, Cardiff, CF10 3NQ or on request by faxing 029 2082 3748.
Responses to the consultation document are invited by Friday, 30 November 2001.
The UK Government's Road Safety Strategy entitled 'Tomorrow's Roads - Safer for Everyone' introduced three targets for the reduction of road casualties by 2010 (based on the 1994-98 average):
40 per cent reduction in the number of killed and seriously injured casualties;
50 per cent reduction in the number of children of killed and seriously injured casualties;
10 per cent reduction in the number of slight casualties (expressed as a rate per 100 million vehicle kilometres).