“Beyond 2020”. That was the 2019 agenda for the National Road Safety Conference. But what actually is beyond 2020? As the wider transport industry undergoes significant political, social, technological, environmental and legal changes, the future is constantly changing. It is undeniably driving uncertainty and disruption with everything from Road Safety to Traffic Signals. With so much of the future on our roads unsure, now more than ever we need our safety professionals to lead the way and help us understand the future of road safety in the UK. But does the responsibility sit with just the professionals?
Attended by a record amount of people this year, the agenda was packed with informative and cutting-edge content. One talk that stood out for us was from Matt Staton, Cambridgeshire County Council. Taking a prime slot in the Main Conference Programme, Matt’s topic was who is involved in Road Safety. It’s easy to just put the responsibility on a select few, the emergency services for example, but the obligation reaches much further. How far and wide it stretches was made clear as Matt mapped out an intricate visual of everyone involved in Road Safety. Helpfully, he summarised it into 5 levels:
- Level 1: Parliament & Legislature
- Level 2: Government Agencies, Universities, Industry Associations, User Groups etc.
- Level 3: Operational Delivery & Management
- Level 4: Local Management & Supervision
- Level 5: Road Users, Vehicles and the Road Environment
At TRL Software, we sit in Level 3: Operational Delivery & Management. Safety is fundamental to everything we do, so much so that it’s one of the values we expect everyone here to strive towards. Being part of this collective responsibility isn’t without its problems. Despite all striving towards a common goal of making our road safer there are obstacles that come from different fractions working together. As Matt put it, there is an element of Golem in us all. Everyone wants to protect their knowledge, to the extent that it stops it from being shared: its “our precious”. Two other obstacles were highlighted: populism and purism. Road safety is a hot topic, and whilst our roads are becoming safer, rightly so there is an expectation that actions will be taken. However, when actions don’t necessary align with either public opinions or political agendas, populism can mean they aren’t taken. Purism, and the pursuit of perfection over anything else, also prevents us from taking some action that would be good enough.
The three P’s (protectionism, populism and purism) are preventing potential safety measures that could be saving lives right now. We need to overcome them, although the journey to doing so isn’t necessarily easy. Professionalism, pragmatism and partnership need take precedent which will need a shift away from existing thinking.
The UK has some of the safest roads in the EU, but every death or injury is one too many. As part of TRL, whose primary purpose is research, knowledge is integral to what we do. Any profit made is funnelled straight back into research so we can help develop the knowledge to make transport safe, clean, affordable, liveable and efficient. In fact, TRL has more than 200 publicly available reports with Safety as a key theme. If knowledge is power, then by sharing we are putting the power of making our roads safer into the hands of more people.
Research is not the only way to gain knowledge. We can gain valuable knowledge and insight from looking at our roads and instrumenting what we see on it. The data already exists, we just need to take one step further. It needs to be put in a format that is useful and allows us to draw insights and effective solutions from it. This is why we developed iMAAP.
iMAAP is a solution with road safety at its heart. A crash data analysis tool, it lets you collate and control the data that already exists into a format that produces effective solutions. Already used across the world, we have seen that by using data in an operative way and implementing real-world solutions, we can take an active step towards making our roads safer. This was the solution we took to the National Road Safety Conference. There is nothing on the market that can quite do what iMAAP does, and in the spirit of partnership, we want to work with as many organisations as possible to tailor it meet their roads. Want to learn more about iMAAP? Contact us at [email protected].