‘Excuses’ campaign takes no prisoners

12.00 | 9 October 2012 | | 8 comments

A new campaign, launched by the Department of Environment (DOE) in Northern Ireland last month, focuses on how the majority of road collisions are due to human error and are not ‘accidents’.

Entitled ‘Excuses’, the campaign highlights that more than 95% of collisions, where someone is killed or seriously injured, are due to human error; not the roads, weather, vehicles, or the environment. The hard-hitting television ad plays out examples across the whole gamut of road safety and the excuses that those responsible for collisions make.

Launching the campaign, Alex Attwood, Northern Ireland’s environment minister, said: “This campaign aims is to deepen everyone’s awareness of their personal responsibility when using the road and to reinforce the need to share the road with others. We are responsible for our own actions and for the consequences. There can be no excuses.

“This campaign challenges the notion that crashes are unavoidable and acknowledges that we can all take a proactive and preventative approach to minimise road casualties.

“A crash is not fate; it is a man-made tragedy that cannot be denied by excuses. Crashes are preventable and we are all responsible. By treating the road as a shared space, we can reduce the risks of being involved in a collision.

“We already have the evidence that this is working. Road users in Northern Ireland have begun to take responsibility, we have modified our driving and riding behaviour and we are more aware as pedestrians. Lives have been saved as a result. We need to build on this to achieve the greater prize – that of zero road deaths.”

Chief superintendent Peter Farrar, Police Service of Northern Ireland, said: “The new ad clearly illustrates the reality that cars rarely cause collisions; roads rarely cause collisions; people cause collisions.

“Reducing the number of deaths and serious injuries on Northern Ireland’s roads is an achievable objective. But it can only be delivered if we all work together.”

Click here to read the full DOE news release and click here to see a clip of one of the advertisements (YouTube).


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    Yes but not everyone has the same level of judgement/skill/awareness etc. to be a wholly safe driver – that’s the fundamental problem! One man’s “inappropriate” speed is another man’s “safe” speed.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Very easy to fall into the trap of hindsight bias, which is why the agencies behind the ‘excuses’ campaign have got just about everything back to front.

    A good example is ‘inappropriate speed for the circumstances’ which is something that can only really be determined after the event and never before it. Whatever speed we are travelling at, we have determined that that speed is entirely appropriate (otherwise we wouldn’t do it) given the balance of probabilities against an off-normal event occurring.

    The speed may well have been inappropriate for the off-normal event, but entirely appropriate for the sequence of normal events that preceeded it. It’s then all to easy for some outside observer after the event to say that the speed was inappropriate, but they may well not have determined this to be so were it they that were in the driving seat at the time.

    Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon.
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I realise that Idris and Eric have their own view on these issues, but my experiece as both a driver and Road Safety Practitioner leads me to observe that the majority of the list can be related to excessive speed (not necessarily speeding) particularly…
    406 Failed to judge other persons path or speed
    602 Careless/Reckless/In a hurry
    410 Loss control
    408 Sudden braking
    103 Slippery road (due to weather)
    307 Travelling too fast for conditions
    802 Failed to look properly:306 Exceeding speed limit
    Even 405 can be caused by the person who failed to look properly travelling too fast, or the vehicle they pulled out on doing so.

    Mark Caerphilly
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    In his seminal work “The Field Guide to Human Error Investigations” Professor Sidney Dekker tells us that “Human error is not a cause of failure, but is the effect or symptom of deeper trouble. To explain failure, do not try to find where people went wrong, but instead investigate how people’s assessments and actions would have made sense at the time, given the circumstances that surrounded them”.

    I think that just about covers it.

    Duncan MacKillop
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    In all the incidents listed, the speed of the vehicle(s) immediately prior to contact would have been relevant – defensive driving by one or more parties involved would no doubt have prevented the incidents – i.e anticipation, awareness and SLOWING DOWN. “Speeding” may not be the primary causes but “the” speed of one or more vehicles would have been highly relevant.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I believe Idris’s “not true” refers to the inclusion of “speeding” in the list ov causes of collisions. In that he is right – speeding does not cause a collision.

    Eric Bridgstock, Independent Road Safety Research, St Albans
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    What is Idris saying? That the Stats produced by Thames Valley Police are reliable or not? If reliable, then the common link IS obviously driver carelessness, but in his opening paragraph Idris says, relating to the quote in the report, “The main causes of collisions seem to be………driver carelessness…” and then says “simply not true”.
    Collisions are caused by carelessness and recklessness by one or more parties involved, borne out of ignorance and arrogance. Unfortunately, STATS 19 over-complicates this by trying to break it down into different types of carelessness and recklessness – is it really needed?

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Excellent in many ways, shame about: “The main causes of collisions continue to be speeding, drink driving and driver carelessness.” Simply not true as we have known since 2006 when the DfT published its first (2005) now annual causation factor report.

    Here is another example

    Code Description % Thames Valley Police

    405 Failed to look properly: 43.71%
    406 Failed to judge other persons path or speed: 24.10
    602 Careless/Reckless/In a hurry: 20.22
    403 Poor turn or manoeuvre: 13.99
    410 Loss control: 13.14
    408 Sudden braking: 8.38
    308 Following too close: 7.93
    103 Slippery road (due to weather): 7.70
    307 Travelling too fast for conditions: 7.11
    802 Failed to look properly: 5.57
    605 Inexperienced or learner driver/rider: 5.25
    501 Impaired by alcohol: 5.25
    306 Exceeding speed limit: 4.07

    Much or indeed everything else in the report is admirable, especially the “personal responsibility” aspect.

    Idris Francis Petersfield
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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