Opinion: Each of us is a road safety role model

13.19 | 27 February 2024 |

In this latest opinion piece, Dr Karen McDonnell, RoSPA’s OHS policy adviser & chair of the Scottish Occupational Road Safety Alliance, explains why there are realistic and achievable ‘New year new me’ opportunities in the world of road safety.

51% of us will have given great thought to setting New Year Resolutions, and according to Forbes Advisor UK, the ‘prevailing theme’ for resolutions in 2023 ‘revolves around individuals aspiring to enhance their physical wellbeing’.

More exercise, weight loss, improved diet are positive habits that benefit people and influence population health…on reflection they are realistic and small changes to daily routine can make a difference. More exercise in the form of active travel brings roads as a shared space into the equation, walking or cycling those short local journeys within a short distance of home. Leaving the car in the driveway or reducing the number of miles driven by leaving it at the park and ride continuing your trip on public transport.

People also take the time to reflect on changing ‘bad’ habits, stopping smoking and reducing alcohol consumption. Mental health and wellbeing are also high on the list of priorities with 24% of people looking to reduce stress levels.

There are real ‘New year new me’ opportunities that are realistic and achievable in the world of road safety and driving for work that can be taken everyday that ensure that people arrive alive…and create space for us to tackle the ‘more exercise, weight loss and developing positive habits in other areas of our lives.

  • Committing to wear your seatbelt and ensuring all your passengers do likewise.
  • Committing to drive according to conditions and within the speed limit.
  • Committing to consider your fitness (no not your exercise regime) to drive in terms of your eyesight.
  • Committing to leave your vehicle in the drive if you are unfit through drug or alcohol consumption.
  • Committing to plan each journey to account for the weather across the seasons.
  • Committing to avoid distractions during your journey from mobile phones and other in-vehicle systems.

Through embedding these ‘good’ habits, you change your behaviour and the behaviours of those around you. And if you are reading this from a workplace perspective, here is an opportunity to have conversations about driving and riding for work that provide an opportunity to talk about mental health and the stress that is associated with driving, then revisit the risk assessment process.

These ‘small’ routine activities are actually the ‘big’ things, we know that making a commitment to these five road safety activities helps people arrive alive…they may not sound as exciting or ‘new me’ish’ as a gym membership or cold water swimming but they add value and save lives.

Each of us is a role model and whilst not everyone gets it right every time, take the time to share these resolutions…life changes in an instant…which is captured in a verse written by John Lennon for a song written for his son Sean.

Before you cross the street, Take my hand
Life is what happens to you
While you’re busy making other plans’

So in 2024 plan to get road safety right on every journey, develop good habits and through doing so gain the benefit of arriving alive.



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