Alan Kennedy, Road Safety GB’s business and operations manager, recently spoke at an international conference in South Korea on the subject of pedestrian safety in the UK.
The conference, which took place on 15 September, was organised by the General Insurance Association of Korea (GIAK) in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Safety and Security, in a bid to find “solutions to enhance road safety in Korea”.
The authorities in South Korea view the UK as one of the most advanced countries in terms of pedestrian safety. The letter of invitation from the GIAK said the UK’s “pedestrian friendly road environment can be attributed to years of efforts that include changing the legal system, expanding expenditure and promoting public awareness”, and expressed a desire to learn from the UK’s experiences.
Alan Kennedy said: “The conference was very formal, and everyone was extremely polite. The presentations were predominantly about architecture and revolved around the problems the city faces in terms of road casualties due to rapid building and poor planning.
“My presentation centred around the need for better road user education and positive messaging, and this stirred some very positive responses from the panel of academics and government officials.”
During his brief visit, he also noticed a number of differences between road safety and road use in Korea and the UK, in particular relating to pedestrians.
He added: “There were a number of immediately obvious differences in the way the roads are used. For example, the car has right of way over the pedestrian, making walking particularly hazardous, and motorcycle couriers use the footpaths and formal crossings to get around because of the risks involved in riding and parking on the roads in the city. Again, this puts pedestrians at greater risk.
“Many of the roads have multiple lanes, in some cases up to eight, and traffic is very dense, with lengthy traffic jams. I was surprised that ambulances, even in emergency mode, sat in queues of traffic.
“The South Korean government accepts they have much to do to turn around their current pedestrian casualty trend and this is why they held this conference. They said they had learned much from the foreign speakers from the UK, USA, and Switzerland and are keen to learn more in the future.”