Soundbites and images from the Topical Topics session of the 2023 National Road Safety Conference.
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Helen Wells (Keele University), Gemma Briggs (Open University) & Dr Leanne Savigar-Shaw (Staffordshire University)
Presentation: We Need To Talk About Handsfree: How do officers police mobile phone use by drivers?
What does the law say?
- 2003 – It is an offence to use a handheld mobile telephone while driving.
- 2017 – Penalty points and fines increased
(6 points, £200 fine).
- 2022 – ‘Clarification’ that this includes using:
- To check the time
- To unlock the device
- To draft a text
- To use the camera
The law does not directly cover handsfree use.
Drivers using a phone:
- …are 4 times more likely to be involved in a collision
- …are far less likely to notice and react to hazards
- …take much longer to react to any hazards they do see
- …show poor lane discipline
- …make more variable speed choices
- …use compensatory strategies
- …don’t improve any of these factors by using a hands-free phone
- Handsfree phone use is legal, but dangerous.
- Officers are an important point of contact with the phone-using public.
- How do officers understand distraction, and how do they police it?
Funded by a Road Safety Trust small grant
- Survey drivers about their likely response to having been caught using handheld
- Understand roadside stops for mobile phone use
- Explore officer understanding of distraction (of other drivers, and themselves)
- Test the effects of an interactive intervention
Survey data: If I was caught by the police using my handheld phone, in future I would…
- Most people said switch to hands free
100% compliance with the ‘handheld’ law would not eliminate the harm caused by mobile phone use
The study carried out officer surveys and interviews. This found:
- 97% agreed that illegal phone use by drivers represents a serious safety issue
- 76% agreed that illegal phone use should always be prosecuted
- 71% agreed that handsfree phone conversation is safer than handheld phone conversation
Officers are keen to educate drivers.
- 88% agree that the public need more education explaining why phone use is dangerous
- 82% say they advise offenders to use a handsfree kit/Bluetooth in future
- 90% say they advise on how to be compliant with the law in future
Education intervention has been created – computer based and free to use.
Officer attitudes after education:
- 64% said they were convinced by the research findings on the dangers of handsfree phone use
- 77% agreed that the task was effective in demonstrating the challenges of multitasking while driving
- 60% agreed that the activity provided information which could help them in future interactions with offenders
- 72% said that in future they would offer advice to offenders on avoiding handsfree use
- 79% said they would explain specifically why handsfree use is distracting
- Education is needed to inform police interactions with offenders, and messaging shared by forces
- different approaches should be considered, including those which are more immersive.
- Officers should not recommend handsfree use to offenders: compliance with law doesn’t equal safety.
- Wider education (e.g. NDORS courses) should be clear on the dangers of handsfree phone use.
- Education needs to work alongside enforcement to meaningfully improve safety and avoid displacement.
Emily Cherry, Chief Executive, The Bikeability Trust
Emily Cherry has spent over 25 years’ in the children’s sector, largely at the NSPCC, but also at the Children’s Society and Barnardo’s. She has experience of running safeguarding services, policy, comms and is a well-known media voice on children, especially in the field of online safety.
Presentation: Cycle Savvy Driving
- Funded through the DfT’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy
- Developed by the Bikeability Trust together with cycling and driving instructor organisations
- To increase the safety of our roads and promote empathy between road users, specifically in circumstances where people driving share the road with people cycling
- Piloted from May 2021 to May 2022
Why it’s important
- Novice drivers are twice as likely to have a collision compared to drivers aged 40–49 (DfT, 2017)
- Around 60% of the British population agree or strongly agree that it is too dangerous for them to cycle on the roads (NTS)
- A demand for ADI resources to support their teaching to learner drivers concerning sharing the road safely with people cycling (76% of 525 ADI survey respondents)
- Self-guided online learning course
- Four modules (3 hours to complete)
- Targeting the UK’s 40,000 ADIs and their learner drivers
- Videos, downloadable factsheets, sample dialogues and interactive quizzes.
Randomised control trials
- 2,339 ADIs registered to take part
- Randomly allocated to a treatment group (access to the training materials immediately), or control group (access on completion of pilot)
- Completion of surveys:
- Baseline survey on registration
Treatment and control group
- Intervention survey on completion of course
Treatment group only
- Endline survey 3 months after registration
Treatment and control group
- Baseline survey on registration
- Primary outcome
- ADI attitudes towards people cycling
- Secondary outcomes
- Sustained changes in attitudes towards people cycling
- Incorporation of cycle awareness into driving lessons
- Increased awareness of the NSCT and Bikeability cycle training
- Satisfaction with the course
- High level of interest from ADIs on:
- The road positioning of people cycling (what they may do and why)
- Understanding the road from a different point of view, recognising vulnerability of other road users
- Learning what is taught to riders during Bikeability cycle training, how a rider may behave
- Safely passing people cycling
- Revisiting the HWC and the NSCT
Limitations & learnings
- Post COVID-19 backlog of learners = small sample size of ADIs
- High attrition rate – ADIs not completing the course with feedback including:
- Make it shorter
- Increase visuals, reduce written content
- Make it accessible on a range of devices
- Check our learning through more Q+A
What do we want to achieve next?
- To create a new, improved resource that incorporates learnings
- To increase reach of the resource – increase ADI uptake, and recruit learner drivers and interested members of the public
- To increase awareness and understanding of recent HWC changes related to sharing the road with people cycling
- Interactive, visually engaging, 90-minute learning resource
- Working closely with the Road Safety Division
- Incentives to complete training
ADIs and learner drivers:
- Understand how riders are trained to negotiate roads, junctions and cycle infrastructure.
- Know when and how to safely overtake people who are cycling
- Know how to navigate junctions and traffic lights safely in order to protect people who are cycling
- Understand when they (as a driver) bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce danger to those more vulnerable than themselves
- ADIs have the tools to teach drivers how to cooperate with and protect people who cycle
Geoff Collins CEng FCIHT MIET, General Manager, Acusensus UK
Geoff Collins is the General Manager for Acusensus UK, responsible for bringing the award winning ‘Heads-Up’ distracted driving solution to the UK.
Presentation: Delivering a functional solution to address distracted driving
Is AI a cure or a curse?
- The future is almost here, and it looks a little scary
- AI could be as transformative as the industrial revolution
- What do you think of when you hear of an “AI controlled future”?
Australia – World’s first Programmes
State wide in:
- New South Wales (NSW) – 2019
- Queensland (QLD) – 2021
- Western Australia (WA) – 2022
- Australian Capital Territories – 2023
‘Heads Up’ system operates with four key steps:
- Deploy – fixed locations or a mobile unit.
- Capture – automatically capture images of vehicles.
- AI Analysis – software automatically reviews images and data.
- Human Review – likely violations sent for anonymised human review.
AI – how does it work?
Trained on hundreds of thousands of images:
- Shown examples of ‘good & bad behaviour’
- Just a labour saving tool
- It simply acts as a filter for later human review
AI is excellent at repetitive tasks, consistently. This is AI for Good!
Trials from July 2022 – Sept 2023
National Highways & Police funded
- >90 sessions run
- 40 unique site locations
- 12 Police force regions so far
The trailers are here! 3 trailers, 1 van are now in the UK:
Planned operational programmes:
- 3 months Operator PING, National Highways
- 12 month operation – Devon & Cornwall
- 4 month operation – National Authority
What are the key challenges?
- Maintain public acceptance
- Currently very high level of support
- ‘ULEZ pushback’ is a growing threat
- Understand the size of the problem
- It is bigger than we realise. Do we have the appetite?
- Current legislation
- It isn’t perfect (mobile phone or seatbelt)
Jill Weekley (Principal Evaluation Consultant) & Shaun Helman (Chief Scientist for Behavioural Sciences), TRL
Jill Weekley is a Principal Evaluation Consultant at TRL with 20 years of experience working in transport.
Shaun Helman is an applied cognitive and social psychologist with nearly two decades’ experience in road safety, road user behaviour, and human-technology integration.
Presentation: Driver2020: young- and novice-driver interventions within the wider context of the young and novice driver problem
Genesis of the project
- 2015 Road Safety Statement committed to evaluating the effectiveness of five interventions designed to reduce collisions in young and novice drivers
- Focused on understanding the effectiveness of non-legislative approaches
- The interventions were identified by previous DfT-funded research by TRL.
- How effective is the intervention at reducing collisions in the first 12 months of post-test driving?
- Does engaging with the intervention lead to changes in other relevant surrogate safety measures?
- What were the factors that led people to engage with the intervention, or the barriers that stopped them engaging?
- Learner drivers / novice drivers randomised into groups offered an intervention, or a control group
- Learners: Logbook, Hazard Perception Training, Education, (Control)
- Novices: Mentoring Agreements, Telematics, (Control)
- Those in intervention groups offered an opportunity to take part in an intervention – designed to reflect a ‘real world’ voluntary context with only modest incentives
- ‘Randomised encouragement design’
Retention & engagement – interventions
- Interventions (in real-world context)
- Engagement was low
- Varied between the interventions
- Logbook – 2.7%
- Mentoring agreement – 3.5%
- Education – 4.7%
- Hazard perception training – 10.7%
- Telematics – 16.5%
- Surrogate safety measures used to capture usable data from engagers (meaning policy can still be informed)
- Where the interventions were offered on a voluntary basis with minimal incentives, they had very low engagement levels
- Voluntary engagement with road safety interventions is poor in young and novice drivers
- A systems-thinking approach can help
What next? Driver 2020 dissemination plan
- Four main trial reports under final review
- Publication as part of wider young novice driver announcements
- Four peer-reviewed journal articles in preparation
- Various briefings and other articles
Dr Jonathan Flower, Transport Planner and Researcher, Centre for Transport and Society, UWE Bristol
Dr Jonathan Flower is a transport planner and researcher at the Centre for Transport and Society at UWE Bristol, and a Board member with the Transport Planning Society.
Presentation: An evaluation of the West of England E-scooter Trial
Video observations of cyclists and e-scooter riders, 6am on Thursday 30th June 2022 to midnight on Sunday 3rd July 2022
- Objective coding of interactions to:
- Indicate highway characteristics that affect e-scooter operation and safety
- How other road users are impacted by e-scooter use
- Highway network performance in relation to delay
- Data collected on:
- Helmet wearing of both e-scooter riders and cyclists
- Range of comparisons of interactions and behaviours between the two groups
Bristol site selection – eight sites with high e-scooter/cycle flows
- Sites 1-3 with separated cycle infrastructure (Type 1)
- Sites 4-5 with cycle infrastructure that offered little protection (Type 2)
- Sites 6-8 with on-carriageway provision with lower e-scooter and cycle flows (Type 3)
Observations of near-misses and illegal/ill-advised actions
- A road user needed to swerve, slow or stop to avoid a collision;
- An e-scooter rider or cyclist rode within 1.0m of a parked vehicle;
- An e-scooter or a cycle was overtaken by a vehicle leaving a gap of less than 1.5m.
Illegal actions included: footway riding; double or triple riding; going through a red signal across a stop line on the carriageway.
Ill-advised actions included: not wearing a helmet and crossing at a signalised crossing with a red standing person/cycle symbol.
Near misses involving cyclists and e-scooters:
- 38% of all riders observed were on e-scooters (16,048 e-scooters/42,673 cycles)
- 39,369 near-misses involving e-scooter riders or cyclists were observed across eight sites in 36hrs
- Proportionally fewer e-scooter riders in near-misses with motor vehicles @ 35% (13,225/37,305)*
- Proportionally fewer e-scooter near-misses with pedestrians, compared to cycles @ 32%**
- E-scooter riders are less likely than cyclists to be involved in a near miss with a motor vehicle (statistically significant)
- E-scooter riders are probably less likely than a cyclist to be involved in a near miss with a pedestrian (borderline significant)
*Statistically significant (χ^2 (1)=73.8,p<0.05); **Borderline significant (χ^2 (1)=3.82,p=0.051)
- Proportion of e-scooters passing too close to parked cars is 34% (1,494/4,357)
- Significantly fewer e-scooter riders than cyclists (^2 (1)=20.3, <0.05)
- Proportion being close passed by drivers is 36% (1,124/3,080)
- No significant difference in close passing by drivers of e-scooters or cycles
- Remarkably there were 4,357 instances of passing too close to a parked vehicle
- And 3,080 close passes in 36 hours of observations
- Equates to 1.4 close passes a minute
Helmet wearing, 5-6pm across eight sites Fri. 1/7/22
- Helmet wearing while riding an e-scooter (or cycle) is not legally required, but trial operator encouraged use of helmets through their in-app messages
- Most cyclists (57%) were observed wearing helmets
- 9% of e-scooter riders wore helmets
- Riders making illegal and ill-advised actions are less likely to be wearing a helmet than the general population of riders
Traffic signals (present at five sites):
- Most common illegal or ill-advised action – observations showed:
- 24% of cyclists (4,031 out of 16,696) rode through a red signal
- As did 25% of e-scooter riders (2,739 out of 10,905)
BUT it is complicated and road layout design matters – Bristol Bridge was the only site with a cycle-only crossing and here rates of riders passing through a red signal were more than double:
Overall, 49% of all e-scooter riders (n=1,394) and 54% of cyclists (n=2,417)
What highway characteristics have affected e-scooter operation and safety?
- Good quality infrastructure would provide space for all types of street user and would reduce, or even eliminate, conflicts (ITF, 2020)
- In Bristol, falls are the most reported cause of injury at 71-87% (Quandil, unpublished and Aurora et al, 2021) with collisions with a motor vehicle being 8% and 14%
- Our observations corroborate this with the majority of e-scooter (7/9, and cyclist 4/5) involuntary dismounts occurring on separated cycle infrastructure
- Suggests scope to improve Bristol’s cycle infrastructure
- Sites 1 and 2 with good infrastructure have lower rates of footway riding
- Fault for passing too close to parked vehicles usually rests with the rider
- Sometimes infrastructure, e.g., a cycle lane places riders too close to parked vehicles
How does the safety of riding an e-scooter compare with cycling?
How is the safety & comfort of road users impacted by e-scooters?
- Significantly fewer e-scooter near-misses with motor vehicles and pedestrians relative to cycles, based on flow
- E-scooters are under-represented in evading action with motor vehicles
- No difference was found with cycles for evading action with pedestrians
- Proportion of drivers that took action to avoid an e-scooter was significantly lower than for cyclists
- Fewer e-scooter riders ride close to parked cars than cyclists
- No difference in close passing by drivers of e-scooters and cycles
- Helmet wearing rate of people presenting to hospital with injury in Bristol is around 20% (Aurora et al, 2021); 7% for e-scooter riders only
- We observed 9% for e-scooter riders in general (and 57% for cyclists)
Collisions from trial operator, police and hospital sources
- Police (STATS19) data seems to under report injuries to e-scooter riders.
- From four weeks of A&E data (Southmead/BRI hospitals) the ratio of serious/severe injuries for that period were:
- 1:10 (STATS19 to hospital data)
- Hospital data suggests: patients are generally young; a high prevalence of alcohol intoxication; most injuries result from falls; injuries occur to the upper/lower limbs and the head/face
- Voi reported 119 serious/severe injuries, or 1.43 per 100,000 km ridden on e-scooters (2021)
- 0.520 STATS19 reported casualties per 100,000 km ridden on e-scooters (trial area)
- 0.294 per 100,000km cycled on urban roads (GB)
- Suggests e-scooter injuries may be more prevalent by km ridden in Bristol as compared with cycling in Great Britain by a factor of approximately 1.8
- High no. of near-misses will likely deter many riders from wanting to ride in the carriageway
- May explain relatively high level of footway riding – 5% for cyclists & 6% for e-scooters
- 14 dismount incidents & three injuries were observed (11 on separated infrastructure)
- May be linked with infrastructure not designed to current design standards
- Separated cycle infrastructure attracts e-scooter riders
- Poor layout design & signal staging/phasing can negatively affect rider behaviour, junction operation & safety
- Were appropriate infrastructure to be provided, micromobility has the potential to help mitigate the risk of motor vehicle traffic by spurring a mode shift from private cars, taxis & motorcycles
Dr Leanne Savigar-Shaw (Senior Lecturer in Policing) & Jack Whalley (Lecturer in Criminology), Staffordshire University
Dr Leanne Savigar-Shaw is a senior lecturer in Policing at Staffordshire University.
Jack Whalley is a part-time lecturer in Criminology at Staffordshire University and a PhD researcher exploring newly emerging learning strategies resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Presentation: Routes to speed safety: The role and contribution of Community Speed Watch
This research aimed to explore the use, role and effectiveness of CSW/CSW+ (with cameras).
Impact on speed
- CSW longitudinal analysis
- CSW+ short-term analysis &
- CSW+ case study analysis
CSW (no cameras)
- There appears to be a fluctuating impact of CSW implementation on driver speeds over time.
CSW + (with cameras)
- Those that did receive a letter, reduced their average offending speed (30mph+ only) from 37mph pre-letter to 34mph post-letter.
- Average top speed for those who received a letter dropped by 10+mph after receiving the letter.
- Behaviour of those not in receipt of a letter is impacted but negatively (statistically significant increased speeds!).
The impact of CSW activity
- 87% of offenders agreed that warning letters are an appropriate way of responding to speeding.
- Only 5% of offenders claimed that warning letters are too lenient.
- The emotional impact of the letter is significant, and the wording of the letter is important.
- 72% of offenders self-reported that the warning letter made them want to change their driving.
- 70% of offenders agreed that seeing CSW activity would make them drive slower in the future
Behaviour change is linked to instrumental compliance, ‘rational’ thinking and message salience.
There is a desire for more CSW but only under certain circumstances
- Near schools
- Not on bends/other side of hills (trying to catch people out)
- With clear visual appearance
- With clear signage
- With wider educational material
- CSW+ in collision hotspots (but beware of halo-effect and ‘unfair’ outcomes…)
Areas for consideration and development for police forces and CSW groups
- Clarity in aims and remit of CSW groups
- Continued development of letters/education
- Guiding public-facing communication
- Avoid describing speeding as a social norm
- Following up with repeat/serious offenders
- Consideration for type(s) of activity
Evaluation is key!
Kris Beuret OBE
Kris Beuret OBE FCILT FIHT TPP was the Director of Social Research Associates – now part of the Temple Group. Kris specialises in engagement between the public and professional transport planning and engineering perspectives
Presentation: The Design of Shared Use Routes for vulnerable road users
- TRSE in the North (TFN) Social Inclusion for the LTP (Surrey CC)
- Concessionary fares for women in refuges (TfGM)
- Decarbonisation and impact on equality groups (ITC supported by Rees Jeffreys)
- Concessionary Fares Policy (DfT)
- Transport Needs of Minority Ethnic and Religious Communities (DfT)
- Rural transport and educational opportunity (Leicestershire CC)
- Ongoing – evidence to Government consultations (Accessibility Association)
Long standing problems:
- Pavement parking – still awaiting Govt response to consultation
- Litter, signage
- Crossing times – pelican v puffin – lack of data on pedestrian congestion
- Speeds – casualty rates linked to vehicle speeds
- Shared routes with cyclists – children, blind and visual disabilities – deaf – neurodiverse
- New uses of high streets – build outs – parklets – out of date crossing locations
- Electric cycles, scooters
- Poor design
- Electric cars – fine particles – illness
- A hidden problem
- Depressed Demand
- (A third of disabled people in TfN study reported going out less than they would like to due to local transport problems)
- Isolation and loneliness
- Better data – and ITS products
- Acknowledge the hierarchy e.g. exclude bike riding at core time – Denmark
- Better design – is shared use feasible? Role of behavioural science? Co-design.
- Bring back the pavement?
Dan Cox, Road Safety Officer, Avon & Somerset Police
Dan is the national lead for the police on the use of farm vehicles and trailers. In 2019, he was given a new role as the Road Safety Officer for Avon and Somerset Police.
Presentation: Safer vehicles and roads: an understanding of the use of agricultural vehicles on our roads
An insight into an area of our work few understand. An entire industry with little interaction with enforcement agencies and no annual testing regime!
The highest death rate of any commercial sector, bringing that risk to our roads.
If we are serious about adopting the safe system approach, then we need to be dealing with those taking the most risk, in the most defective vehicles, they are not just on rural roads
Times change, legislation hasn’t kept up
Early mechanisation did not require complex legislation for field-to-field operations.
Vocational license not required, no formal annual test, no excise cost, rebated fuel, no tachographs/Operators license.
Without structure and enforcement, an arms race has ensued without regulation. The largest vehicles on the road driven on a car license!
26 tonnes, how can this be right when we require a CBT for a small motorcycle and an MOT!
Low levels of farm workers need bigger machines.
Width & weight of LGV traffic
Width of LGV traffic is regulated to 2.55metres, hence this alignment for agricultural speeds.
Over 2.55metres reduces speed from 25-20MPH, but machines go much faster.
3 metres and wider down to 12MPH.
Machines running at 40MPH, without ABS, full suspension, failsafe steering which are mandatory.
Units up to 45 tonnes in use. Trailers purchased off the shelf at 31 tonnes, wheeled tractors up to 14 tonnes.
The second half of the issue
It is pure stupidity to except that those susceptible to taking the most risk in their industry are then left to be completely responsible for the road worthiness of their own vehicles.
Up until recently a trailer test had been required for towing a trailer. Apart from that is agriculture, where a trailer of 31 tonnes can be purchased and is in use with without training! 18,290kg legally.
Cost or convenience?
No amount of money can support a large commercial farm to stay legal and be profitable, legislation needs to change to allow farming to flourish.
Commercially recognised, industry unions need to step up and embrace change and not frustrate change. Government need to make changes to allow farming to flourish, but most importantly protect us all. Not be influenced politically as in the past.
Ian Edwards, New View Consultants
Ian Edwards is an independent road safety consultant who has developed and delivers several of Road Safety GB’s courses, including the Foundation and Behavioural Change course
Presentation: Take Control
What is impulsivity?
Defined as “the tendency to act with little forethought, without deliberation and evaluation of consequences” (Caci et al., 2003, p34)
Impulsivity is a multidimensional construct covering:
- Attention – the ability to maintain focus on a task
- Planning – the evaluation of consequences of actions
- Reaction – the ability to control an impulse to act
Youth and impulsivity:
Key executive control functions are still in development:
- Response inhibitions
- Selective attention
Impulsivity and road safety:
Impulsivity has been linked to:
- Drink driving (Treloar et al., 2007)
- Drug driving (Wichens et al., 2021)
- Mobile phone use and texting (Sullivan et al., 2020)
- Speeding (Eensoo., 2010)
Can this be improved by training?
An Estonian study, using police and a national insurance databases, compared the outcomes 1,058 driver who had received a 90-minute intervention with a control group of 517 drivers
One-year post-intervention there was a significant (p<.05) difference in speeding offences, with 3.3% of the intervention group having been caught speeding, compared to 6.3% of the control group (Paver et al., 2013)
A 4-year follow-up found that the intention group had been involved in significantly (p<.05) fewer collisions, with 18.2% having been involved in a collision, compared to 23% for the control group (Eensoo et al., 2018)
Background to the current study:
- The initial development team consisted of myself and Prof. Robert Isler
A small-scale evaluation was conducted by the University of Ulster, which concluded that there was a measurable improvement in awareness of impulsive behaviour and road safety (Doggett et al., 2018)
Based on this finding, the Road Safety Trust, who supported the initial study, financed further work.
- Awareness – be aware of your surrounding, emotional state and who is with you
- Mindful – simple breathing exercise
- Question – ask questions from different perspectives
- To recognise when they need to use the strategy
- To recognise where they need to use the strategy – before getting into the vehicle/in a vehicle/ when planning a trip
- To recognise triggers to implement the strategy – heightened emotional states
- Reward immediacy is important!
- Collisions sound unlikely and are something that happens to others
- Focused on being: Healthy – Wealthy – Wise
Current evaluation: Take Control is being delivered in both South Yorkshire and Wirral.
Schools were matched on pupil premium rates and then randomly allocated to either the intervention or control group
Questionnaires were administered to both groups 5 weeks a part
The questionnaires include the following:
- Violation Willingness Scale (Rowe et al., 2013)
- Abbreviated Impulsivity Scale (Coutlee et al., 2014)
- Results available later in 2023
- Difficulty in matching the sample
- Impulsivity has been related to unsafe driving behaviours There is evidence to suggest that a short intervention may reduce speeding offences and collisions
- The current research will report later this year