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Pedestrian safety ‘essential for safer roads’

Written by: Neil

Understanding the importance of road safety is something everybody must try to do and the high volume of traffic on the nation's carriageways does not just present a risk to motorists, but pedestrians too can find themselves in harm's way.

It is therefore essential that all road users pay close attention to the safety of this vulnerable group, as failure to do so can lead to serious and tragic consequences.

Improving pedestrian safety awareness

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) is holding a conference entitled Stop, look and listen. Can we honestly say we do? at IET Birmingham: Austin Court on March 11th.

It will feature far-reaching discussions relating to areas like the provision of road safety training in schools and if this is adequate, as well as examining the responsibilities of local authorities, vehicle manufacturers, operators, researchers and policy-makers in this area.

Moreover, chief executive at pedestrian charity Living Streets Joe Irvine will be giving a keynote speech to attendees. He will be joined by representatives from Road Safety Analysis, West Berkshire Council and Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council, who will also be sharing their views and mingling with the crowds.

Kevin Clinton, RoSPA's head of road safety, said: "Pedestrian safety may be most associated with educating children, but with a public health emphasis on increasing walking, coupled with the distraction of technology and increasingly busy lives, helping adults is also an area that needs much thought.

"It's important that we don't lose sight of the needs of pedestrians. This conference will be a chance for road safety professionals to come together and justify how their interventions will make a difference."

The event is being sponsored by Britax and will aim to encourage all road practitioners to justify their present stance on pedestrian safety, ensuring they highlight the things they are doing well at present, as well as the areas in which they could improve.

A number of real-life case studies will be examined on the day, highlighting to attendees the efforts that are already being made by businesses and organisations to protect pedestrians in their area.

Tickets for the conference will cost £150 for RoSPA members and £175 for non-members.

Understand the basics

Road safety is something we all learn as a child, but do these lessons translate into safer roads for all? This is the question all drivers and businesses operating at-work driving programmes must ask themselves.

Figures highlighted by RoSPA show that one quarter of all UK road fatalities in 2013 were pedestrians. Furthermore, data published by the government's ongoing road safety campaign Think! shows that every week, an average of eight children aged under six are either killed or injured on the nation's roads.

As a result, all road users and pedestrians are encouraged to give a good example to young people when traversing the UK's highways, with best practice at the heart of helping to reduce unnecessary and tragic fatal accidents in the years ahead.

Anyone walking with a child is advised to ensure they set a good example. This means not taking risks when crossing roads and always using designated crossing points when they are available.

People should avoid talking or texting on mobile phones when crossing the road – they should focus all their attention on the traffic around them – and they should aim to wear bright or fluorescent colours when out walking in the evening or early morning.

Setting the best example to the next generation regarding proper road safety for pedestrians will hopefully result in safer roads in the years ahead and reduce the need for costly campaigns to re-educate individuals who should know better and flout the rules, placing both themselves and other people in danger.

Driver training is key to safer streets

Ultimately, businesses that operate fleet vehicles and have staff carry out work that requires them to take to the roads should have in place effective training and resources to offer the best level of protection to pedestrians and other vulnerable road users in areas where their vehicles and staff are in operation.

This means systems like undertaking ISO 39001 accreditation or investing in training programmes for staff that will lead to them developing essential safer driving skills.

Measures all at-work motorists should be aware of when it comes to staying safe behind the wheel include the need to have one's wits about them at all times, ensuring they are fully focused on what they are doing and everything that takes place around their vehicle.

Drivers should also be able to effectively anticipate what is happening on the road ahead of them, as this ensures they are able to react more swiftly in the event of danger, such as a pedestrian running out from the side of the road or a car up ahead braking suddenly.

Overall, research carried out by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) last year show that a significant proportion of at-work drivers have not received any training on proper safe driving behaviour (72 per cent), but many people who do drive for work purposes – almost half – said they would welcome the chance to improve their skills.

Lessons must be learned by all

According to a recent report by Transport for London, it is not just vehicle operators and travellers that need to make changes to their practices in order to improve safety for pedestrians not just here in the UK, but around the world.

Measures including effective speed management and traffic re-routing away from high-risk areas by local authorities, improved vehicle design by manufacturers and improved public awareness on the dangers faced when in the vicinity of roads are all areas where improvements have been seen in recent years and have led to a reduction in fatalities.

However, that is not to say these authorities can now rest on their laurels, as the fight to safeguard more vulnerable people continues unabated.

The hard fact of the matter is that vulnerable people continue to be killed in unnecessary accidents on the UK's roads every year and until the nation can boast that not a single person is killed on its highways, then efforts must continue to be made to improve safety standards and awareness by all.



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