The National Road Safety Conference 2013 opened with a presentation from Honor Byford, the new chair of Road Safety GB, who officially assumed her duties at the AGM immediately prior to the conference itself.
The conference, which is being held in Harrogate on 13-14 November, is being hosted by Road Safety GB Yorkshire & Humber Region and is sponsored by Colas, AA DriveTech and FirstCar.
Honor Byford has been a professional road safety officer for more than 30 years, firstly during her military career and latterly in local government, and has developed a thorough understanding of the profession both in this country and in Europe. She is currently team leader for road safety and travel awareness for North Yorkshire County Council. Prior to this she managed a combined road safety education and engineering team in Brighton and Hove.
Honor believes in the value of effective partnership working, innovation and progress but also in maintaining the values of proven programmes where they are shown to be the best means to a safety education end.
In her presentation Honor reminded delegates that by 2020 the current government intends to have reduced local government funding by at least 40% against the 2010 level. To thrive in such an environment, she said that road safety professionals must become “seriously proficient” at a range of skills such as developing and presenting a business case, setting clearly measurable outputs and achieving them, and bidding to provide services.
Turning to her new role as chair of Road Safety GB, Honor outlined three challenges for the coming year.
First, she wants to clearly define the role of Road Safety GB and the role of the road safety professional. “I want us, our employers, our partner agencies and the public to know and understand the role we play in reducing casualties and collisions and preventing harm, injury and premature deaths,” she said.
Her second challenge is to cultivate partnerships between Road Safety GB and other agencies and organisations involved in road safety, adding that “we have started by developing a Memorandum of Understanding to clearly set out our relationship with the Fire and Rescue Service”.
The final challenge is to look at the membership of Road Safety GB. “This is a wider issue that will take care and thought. We are starting to consider who contributes to road safety education and training, whether they want to be members of this organisation and how we might go about broadening our membership while maintaining the professional accreditation and quality assurance appropriate to each role,” she said.
In closing Honor Byford said: “As a profession we will continue with the best of what we have learned over the past 25 years: to prevent deaths and injuries by informing, by educating, by transferring skills and understanding.
“We achieve this through first identifying the problems – the causes and contributory factors behind road crashes and injuries – and then working together, to maintain the best and essential core of education, training and publicity to effect behavioural change. This is how we intervene at the right place and time to change the outcome.
“We will also adapt and devise new ways of working with other disciplines and professions. Road Safety GB is stepping up not just to support the work of road safety officers but to take the lead among our partner professions, to set the highest standards and to help this profession to aspire and achieve.”