On 10 March 2017, Peter Wilson, Westminster City Council’s road safety manager, will reach the very significant milestone of 40 years’ service in road safety education.
First employed as a road safety officer by the London Borough of Lambeth in March 1977, Peter went on to work for London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and West Sussex County Council, before joining Westminster City Council in 2001.
Peter was first employed by Lambeth as a road safety officer within the public safety team, with a remit to work with schools to promote road safety.
He said: “As an ex art teacher I used my skills to make a series of models of aliens and the pupils had to explain to their alien how to travel on our roads and cross them safely. Some of the aliens only had one eye or one ear to get children to think about looking and listening.”
“I took the RoSPA cycling instructor and examiner course and every Friday went out with the cycle training team to test children. I remember brushing snow in the playground to make the road layout or rolling out old hoses to mark the kerbs.
“On one Saturday morning every month Lambeth Town Hall was turned over to the Tufty Club. We had a series of 35mm COI (Central Office of Information) films and Loony Tune cartoons as well as a large ventriloquist’s dummy of Tufty.
“In the summer months we used pedal cars, dress-up costumes of lollipop men and women and police officers. Our kit also included an ice-cream van, and every child got an ice-cream wafer sandwich!”
In 1979, Peter moved to Hammersmith and Fulham, working for the late Kit Kite who will be remembered by some longer serving RSOs, particularly those in London.
During his time with Hammersmith and Fulham Peter learnt to ride a motorcycle, became an ADI and also joined the Institute of Road Safety Officers (IRSO). He was IRSO’s London Area secretary for five years and on the committee for the Institute’s 25th anniversary exhibition.
Peter then left London to become the county road safety officer for West Sussex. At that time, he was the youngest county RSO in the country.
He said: “With a team of RSOs in four offices up to 50 miles apart, and not having computers or mobiles, for the first two years we did a lot of meetings in the middle of the county.
“For three years we were the stars of the council stand at the South of England Show with our seat belt demo sled and a full size elephant’s head from the DfT campaign film. We could make it flap its ears and wink which drew crowds in.”
In his time with West Sussex, Peter also chaired both the regional group of LARSOA (now Road Safety GB) for three years, and the South East region of IRSO.
Following a fatal school minibus crash in 1993, Peter was involved in developing an award-winning training video and full teaching notes for teachers and others using community buses.
Peter said: “This video won an award at the 1995 International Road Safety Films Event in Lille in France. The video was sold nationally and surprisingly to the French Army.”
In 1999 Peter designed a drink drive campaign which sold internationally, but having been given the intellectual copyright he fell foul of conditions of service regulations and resigned his post at West Sussex.
For the next two years Peter worked as a consultant for a number of Welsh authorities on safe walking routes to schools.
He returned to local government in 2001 to manage the SCP service at Westminster, before being promoted to road safety manager in 2007.
Peter has also represented the profession on the Transport Vocational Group, latterly the National Forum for Transportation Skills, bringing into being the NVQs Level 3, 4 and 5 in Transportation Studies.
In 2012, Peter was involved in the traffic management during the London Olympics. “It was a proud feeling that we were contributing to such an event,” he said.
Everyone at Road Safety GB congratulates Peter on the remarkable achievement of 40 years road safety service – a milestone unlikely to be matched by many current RSOs.