A few words from Rob Gifford

12.00 | 12 December 2012 | | 10 comments

It’s been a huge privilege to run PACTS for the last 18 and a half years.

When I started in May 1994, I didn’t think I’d have lasted as long as I have done. However, the great enjoyment has been the very wide collection of people that I’ve met over the years from dedicated roads policing officers through local authority and professional groups to leading figures in multinational private sector companies. Transport safety really is an example of the Big Society, even if that term has attracted some negative publicity.

It’s also been fascinating to deal with a variety of political groupings. When I started, it was the final days of the Conservative government elected in 1979. That was followed by Labour with a huge majority that was not entirely matched in the boldness of their actions. Finally, we have a coalition – the first since the Second World War – with a priority of deficit reduction above everything else. And that’s not to mention the interesting developments emerging from devolution – lower drink drive limits in Scotland and Northern Ireland, graduated licensing and different visions and comparison periods for casualty reduction.

Yes, there are regrets. Why haven’t we lowered the drink-drive limit at Westminster? What about the adoption of Vision Zero? Whatever happened to Intelligent Speed Adaptation?

And there have been battles. I’m not sure we’ve resolved the issue of comparative local authority performance: why are some better than others? We still need to have a mature debate about speed management and data reliability. We need to continue to campaign for political leadership for road safety.

So, there are still challenges ahead.

I’m really delighted that David Davies will take over my job at the end of the year. And I’m not disappearing from the scene. You can contact me via Robert@giffordpartnership.co.uk if you need help with a project, someone to read over your reports and check their content or strategic political advice.

Continuing to cut casualties will not be easy over the next few years. There are no obvious single measures to adopt. Rather, we need a more sophisticated approach recognising that people, machines and their environment act in a dynamic relationship and that safety is not an end in itself but a means to help achieve greater mobility.

Happy Christmas!

Robert Gifford


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    Rob has done a great job in his time at PACTS. He has worked hard to promote all aspects of road safety.

    Leslie Harrold, Road Safety Grampian
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    Many thanks Rob for providing the necessary moral compass and the occasional loaded question that gets everyone to pause and think. I’m still not sure about your choice of socks.

    Ian Procter
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    Rob – all your friends at Dynamic wish you well & look forward to taking advantage of your sage advice in 2013!

    Jan Deans, CEO Dynamic
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    There’s little I can add to what has already been said. Rob’s clear-sighted, imaginative and friendly approach is only exceeded by his ability to ‘cut through the crap’ – in a good way!

    You will be greatly missed, Rob, and I wish you great success in your new venture.

    Liz Knight. Road Safety, Hounslow Council
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    Rob was always so approachable and helpful. I did not have a large organisation but Rob always made me feel that our views were valued. I am sorry to see you leave Rob, but wish you well in the future.

    Vicki Stone MBE, Learn and Live
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    ISA (as referred to by Robert in his piece) is dead (thank goodness). £29bn not affordable in recession. Benefits wildly exaggerated by:

    • (a) Assuming casualties static without ISA – they have fallen substantially, as potential benefit does pro rata.
    • (b) Values of accidents prevented use wildly overstated DfT estimates*.
    • (c) Assumed fatalities will rise later due to rising traffic – but traffic as we know it has peaked, is falling and will continue due to high costs, less need to travel due to electronics, and trains.
    • (d) % reductions claimed for eliminating speeding far exceed % ever caused by speeding, impossible**.
    • (e) Adverse effects (entirely predictable and found by at least one volunteer, delighted to hand back his free car) causing accidents, road rage entirely ignored.

    * http://www.fightbackwithfacts.com/bogus-dft-values/
    ** ISA argue more accidents due to speeding than Stats19 reports. Simply wrong: FoI answers confirm no Force has even one documented instance.
    see http://www.fightbackwithfacts.com/intelligent-speed-adaptation/

    Idris Francis Petersfield
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    I will miss Rob, his advice on all things multi-modal, not least of all his help with translations over the years from Scottish to English and also his eclectic taste in music! I wish him all the best in the future.

    Bill Smith, dbda
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    Well,Honor and David have said all the good things that I would have liked to have said if I had got there first so I would just like to agree totally with the thoughts they express.

    We have always been inspired by Rob’s clarity of thought and his knack of getting to the core of the vast range of topics which fell under the purview of his role as Director of PACTS. My earnest hope is that Rob’s offer of assistance with various future projects will not be overlooked. I wish you well Rob, I have great memories of our association over the last 18 years.

    It would be extremely churish if I did not follow these words by wishing good luck to David as he follows this hard act.

    Brian, Road Safety GB
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    It has been my privilege recently to work with Rob Gifford and to benefit from his advice and support. He is the epitome of how to make a difference by:
    • Doing your homework (as an ex teacher, so he should of course!)
    • Working out what should be done and
    • What is achievable

    and then

    • Setting about the process of persuasion and change to make our transport systems safer.

    That Rob has so ably established PACTS as the respected organisation it now is and both won respect and made friends on all sides along the way speaks volumes for just how talented and effective he is.

    I am delighted that he will continue to make his knowledge and experience available to us as a profession – his sound advice and imaginative approach are much needed in these challenging times and much appreciated.

    Honor Byford, Vice Chair, Road Safety GB
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    Thanks for your guidance, wise words and actions over the years Rob. May David continue as successfully as you have left off. All the best for your future and no doubt we’ll continue to hear from you & your new venture.

    David Stennik
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