Road Safety News

Partnership launched with pledge to reduce casualties

Tuesday 22nd September 2015

The launch of a new road safety partnership in Essex last week was marked with a visit from one of the region’s air ambulance helicopters - and a pledge to reduce casualties.

The Safer Essex Roads Partnership (SERP) was officially launched on 17 September at Hylands House in Chelmsford. Special guests included John Wraw, the Bishop of Bradwell, and Viscount Simon who has been a member of the House of Lords for 22 years and during that time has worked to make Britain’s roads safer.

SERP has brought together the three local authority areas of Essex County Council, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and Thurrock Council to provide a road safety service across ‘Greater Essex’. The other SERP partners are Essex Police, Essex Fire and Rescue Service, Highways England and The Essex and Herts Air Ambulance Trust.

The partnership’s purpose is to reduce death and serious injury on Essex roads to zero, which it describes as “an ambitious vision”.

In the interim, SERP has set a “challenging” target to reduce death and serious injuries by 40% by 2020 (from the baseline average of 2005-2009).

To help achieve the target, SERP has launched a new initiative to encourage all road users to make small changes in their behaviour to save lives and injuries.

The SERP Small Change Pledge asks people to sign up to make a small change to how they drive, ride a motorbike or bicycle, walk and cross roads, in a bid to improve their safety and the safety of others.

Behaviours that people can sign up to include driving at an appropriate speed, cycling in a considerate manner, committing to never drink or drug drive or use a mobile while driving, to always wear a seatbelt and to look out for motorcyclists and cyclists.

Nicola Foster, chair of SERP, said: “We hope to recruit more partners, people and organisations to work with us towards a vision of zero deaths and serious injuries on Essex roads. The vision is aspirational but one we believe can be achieved together.

“We are also launching the Small Changes Pledge. It is everybody’s responsibility to make sure everyone using the road makes it home safely.

“We believe if everyone makes a small improvement to in their driving, riding or walking behaviour, collectively it could make a large change to the numbers of people killed or seriously injured on the roads.”


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For the avoidance of any misunderstanding about the term 'the same' here is a pdf of an excellent presentation that explains it in a bit more detail.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident

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"..things go right and things go wrong for exactly the same reasons!" Quite correct..the 'same reason' being the individuals doing the 'things' either right or doing them 'wrong', that is the fundamental problem!

The remedies still come back to education and enforcement at the sharp end i.e the roadside, which I presume and hope this partnership will be concentrating on.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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The fundamental, but incorrect belief that there isn’t a single answer to the multitude of factors that can combine into a road collision is perhaps the biggest problem that this industry faces.

Even though it might overturn a lot of established thinking, the single answer that the industry is looking for is that things go right and things go wrong for exactly the same reasons!

When things go wrong our assumption tends to be that something or someone malfunctioned or failed. When things go right, as they do most of the time, we assume that the system functions as designed and people are doing what we imagine they should be doing. These assumptions are incorrect however because success and failure are manifestations of exactly the same processes not different ones. This is called 'equivalence' and is perhaps one of the most difficult of the systems thinking ideas for people to get to grips with. Once you do get to grips with it however the whole world suddenly begins to make a lot more sense.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

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My original post did say "Apart from unpredictable mechanical failures and Acts of God..." Idris, but the other collisions are down to human failings I'm sure.
p.s. Not for the first time have "...accelerated hard.." and "..swerved..." appeared in your personal driving anecdotes and it tells me a lot about your driving style and (only in my opinion obviously) lessens your credibility as a commentator on this subject... again, that's just my opinion.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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It seems timely for me to remind readers of the role of Road Safety GB: we provide this Newsfeed as part of our wider road safety remit and in order to enable exchanges of views and discussions to take place on all sorts of road safety related issues as and when they arise.

Road Safety GB is primarily an organisation that focusses on the specific specialty of road safety education, training and publicity and the profession that works in this area. This is a broad and broadening church that includes public sector, private companies and contractors, third sector charities, health services, academia and other organisations.

We are also one element of a much wider world of engineering, enforcement, academic research and public policy.

We welcome discussion and exchanges of ideas and we would not want for us only to talk to each other inside some virtual bubble and not benefit from other points of view, however unusual or unconventional they may be. That includes Duncan’s insights along with Idris, Hugh and many others. In fact I would like to see more contributions from our wider readership, please.

We do, however, ask that these discussions be conducted courteously and with mutual respect. Routine denigration of the members of this organisation based on a perceived wrongness almost of the very existence of their role is not likely to persuade them of the validity of an alternative approach.

No one sector has “the answer” to making our roads safer and reducing the number of collisions and the effects of those events on the people involved, because there isn’t a single answer to the multitude of factors that can combine into a road collision. Even if you look at infrastructure alone, where do you start? Is it all about signs? Or road markings? Or highways geometry? Or is it all about vehicle design? Clearly not, it is a mix of all these things. At the centre of which are human beings as road users of all types of transport and how they interact with these many systems and how the systems work for them. And of course the designers of these many systems are also human beings, who also use the networks and the elements of them that they design.

Nick as our Editor spends a lot of time searching out road safety related items from all disciplines. Inevitably though you will see more news items that focus on the education, training and publicity fields and their potential and practice to reduce collisions and casualties - because that is our area of work. That doesn’t mean there isn’t also a great deal of engineering, enforcement, research and corporate practice work going on, simply that it is not so often seen on the Newsfeed because it isn’t our primary field.

I sometimes feel that the authors of some of the more critical posts are taking what they see on this Newsfeed as all that is being done to reduce and prevent crashes on our roads and either find us wanting or accuse us of blaming road users instead of righting “the system” based on what they see here. This is a very narrow view of a much wider scene. We offer just one glimpse into a much larger area of work.
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

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Hugh, the first sentence of my last paragraph is so clearly an opinion that I saw no reason to identify it as such. As for the rest, it is a fact that my engine management electronics - plus the chip in the ignition key - blew instantaneously and without warning just as I accelerated hard off a roundabout trying to make space between me and an idiot tailgater doing the same. I avoided being hit by using my hazard warning lights immediately as I swerved to the nearside kerb. But failures of that and other kinds can and do cause accidents that were no one's fault, a possibility which, astonishingly, you still refuse to accept.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

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Your last paragraph was clearly just an opinion Idris as you did not state otherwise, although you presented it as a fact. Your 'opinions' seemed to be based only on your own personal experiences, rather than on any wider knowledge of the subject. I take it you'll be renaming your website to "Fight Back with Opinions"?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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I almost always find Duncan's comments helpful, sensible and thought-provoking. His first statement here was so obviously his opinion rather than documented fact that I saw no need for him to say so.

To avoid wasting space in every comment could we have a house rule that every comment is an opinion, unless identified as fact?

For what it's worth, I agree with Duncan that there is far too much emphasis on "someone must have been at fault - nail him" rather than trying to determine why the accident happened. And you are again wrong, Hugh, some accidents DO just happen - mechanical failure, foot slipping off brake pedal, total failure of engine management system resulting on complete and instantaneous loss of power (how I got to the lay-by before the idiot tailgater hit me I will never know).
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

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When we publish a news story based on a press release we always try to attribute any claims made to the organisation that produced the release, and then let the readers judge for themselves how much weight to attach to them. We also, from time to time, go back to organisations submitting material for publication to seek clarification on claims made and statistics quoted.
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News

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Your point is extremely valid Nick, but what's sauce for the goose must also be sauce for the gander.

Can we now look forward to the author's of the press releases also being admonished when they present opinions as facts or make unsubstantiated claims for the effects of an intervention?
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

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Duncan - here's my problem

You said: "whereas in road transport it's always a case of 'who' went wrong and 'how'."

You could have said:
"whereas, in my experience, in road transport it always seems to be a case of 'who' went wrong and 'how'."

"whereas often in road transport it's a case of 'who' went wrong and 'how'."

Or anything else along those lines.

But you chose to use the word 'always' as though what you are saying is beyond question, and applies to every individual and organisation involved in road safety/road transport.

And that is impossible for you to substantiate.

What I am asking from you, is a measured response when posting comments on this newsfeed. You are one of our very regular contributors and many of the discussion threads contain input from you.

When you are expressing an opinion, it should be clear it is your opinion, and not presented as though it is a fact.
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News

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Forgive me Nick, but anyone from outside this industry that reads the press releases and comments on this site would come to the same conclusions that I have. The marked concentration on attempting to change the behaviour of the individual as a way of reducing accidents without understanding the behaviour of the system as a whole is deeply worrying to concerned individuals like myself and even more so now that the KSI figures have started to rise.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

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Apart from unpredictable mechanical failures and Acts of God, isn't 'what went wrong' the same as 'who went wrong' anyway? In other words, at some point an individual, or individuals, must have been at fault. On the road, collisions don't just happen.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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Your statement buried in the post below:
"whereas in road transport it's always a case of 'who' went wrong and 'how'."

Encapsulates your prejudiced and jaundiced view of the road safety profession.

It is a hugely biased and overly dramatic statement which you cannot possibly substantiate.

I am asking you to refrain from making such statements on this website from here onwards.

We are all for healthy, constructive, measured debate - but are not prepared for you to articulate your personal, overly-critical views as though they are a statement of fact.

You have made some thought provoking and insightful contributions to discussion threads on the website, but the statement above, and others of similar ilk, do you no credit.
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News

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Many metres you say Bob? Check out this video of one of our Air Ambulance crews in action.

You are correct in saying that a commercial pilot undergoes a great many hours of training, but for microlight and general aviation flyers the training requirement is much the same as learning to drive. What's at issue here however are the different safety cultures that are in place. It can be summarised by saying that in aviation it's always a case of 'what' went wrong and 'why' whereas in road transport it's always a case of 'who' went wrong and 'how'. We will learn much more from the what and the why than we ever will from the who and the how.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

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Ok so I didn't fully consider or encompass the dangers that an Air Ambulance pilot has to deal with under some circumstances when attending at the scene of an incident. I do believe that flying over the UK he/she can be or will be in touch with ground control crews as the UK has extremely busy airways with little not covered by air traffic control. Even if he is flying under their radar. That said I do believe that you are overstating the argument. Yes he has to negotiate away from possible danger, just as a motorcyclist or car driver does or rather should do.

Such a qualified pilot has to undertake many hours of training - running into hundreds of hours, and assessments and retraining in order to keep his licence whereas a driver just passes a test with a few hours tuition and then is allowed on the road for the rest of his life. You also mention that his safety and that of his aircraft and crew are up to the skill of himself and that also includes his crew. On seeing many a TV programme he may have two others assisting him in tight or difficult situation. Not so a driver on our roads who is generally by himself and doesn't have the benefit of other eyes.

As regards the close proximity,by inches, as you say. No one in his right mind will put a machine like that into such jeopardy or will land when things are that close and we are therefore talking in terms of many yards or metres rather than inches.

Your last paragraph does need reply you make an erroneous statement which cannot be justified other than to sway the argument in your favour.
Bob Craven, Lancs. Space is Safe Campaigner

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Au contraire Bob, there is a great deal of commonality between the two systems. Both comprise of human beings operating complex machines in hostile environments.

It's a common misunderstanding that aircraft movements are monitored and controlled from the ground. Probably less than 10% of all aircraft movements are controlled in any way and then only when those aircraft are operating in airspace in the vicinity of airports. Over 90% of the low level airspace above the UK is what is called Class G or the 'open FIR' where all movements and actions are solely under the control of the pilot in charge. The risk of collision between aircraft is relatively low thanks to the big sky - small aeroplane concept, but the risk to the Air Ambulance is very much with the objects that it might hit close to the ground or the local weather conditions. It is not uncommon for the Air Ambulance to land smack in the middle of a busy city with sometimes inches between the rotor tips and nearby buildings. There is no air traffic controller that can help them in such situations it is all down to the skill and expertise of the crew. Trees, pylons and cables all provide a significant collision risk and yet the Air Ambulance is often forced to negotiate these obstacles in order that they may carry out their primary function which is saving lives.

My colleague rides to work on his Kawasaki under one safety system, yet pilots his Air Ambulance under a completely different and far superior safety system. Same bloke, same 'attitudes to risk' yet in the air he is part of the solution, but on the road he is part of the problem, go figure.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

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Funny Duncan... I didn't think of that. Is it because the Air Ambulance doesn't have wheels and doesn't us the national road network or maybe because they rarely come across dangerous situations in all that heavily regulated SAFE SPACE.

All movement in the air of all aircraft being individually monitored by ground controllers who are in constant communications to advise and reduce any potential hazard, whatever that may be.

Bit different from the road isn't it?

Now that I think of it yes I was aware of the differences.
Bob Craven Lancs.....Space is safe Campaigner

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It's funny when you think that the Air Ambulance operates under an entirely different and far more effective safety system than the rest of the partners.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

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This new partnership will need to try many new initiatives if they are to make a real difference and, if these are introduced within scientific trials, they will not only be able to prove what effect they're having, but they may get significant publicity for being the first to use scientific trials. Let's wish them every success.
Dave Finney, Slough

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I think that interdisciplinary and multi-agency collaboration is beneficial in better understanding issues and de-siloing costs and benefits for initiatives. Given the influence of transport policies on public health then I am surprised that there is no mention of the public health representation. Hopefully this is either an oversight in reporting or can be corrected by the inclusion of public health.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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I must admit that I am excited about what may come out of this multi occupational and disciplinary group. Bringing with it expertise not only in road safety and road practices but hopefully engineering into the a combined mix. To run with, or side by side, any road safety offices within its boundary. I wait to see good things coming out of this new venture.
Bob Craven, Lancs. Space is Safe Campaigner

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