Road safety should be at the heart of the current central Government focus on active travel, and practitioners should be striving to make internal connections with the people delivering this work, and the funding that goes with it.
This is one of the key messages from the new chair of Road Safety GB, Philppa Young, in a wide-ranging presentation delivered as part of the Festival of Road Safety.
Philippa Young assumed the post of chair at the Road Safety GB AGM on 10 November, succeeding Liz Brooker MBE who held the post for the previous two years.
Philippa’s Festival presentation on 12 November was her first public engagement since taking office.
In her opening remarks she welcomed Vicky Harvey (Kent CC) and Matt Staton (Cambridgeshire CC) to the Road Safety GB Board, in their new posts of vice-chair and director or research respectively.
She also said Road Safety GB is looking for a new director of communications following Steve Horton’s departure. Anyone interested in knowing more, or expressing an interest in the post, should contact Alan Kennedy by email in the first instance.
Philippa then went on to discuss the Festival of Road Safety, describing it as a ‘fantastic alternative’ to the National Road Safety Conference which was cancelled as a result of COVID-19.
Speaking about the Festival programme, she said she was ‘blown away’ by the quality and variety of presentations on offer, which she described as a ‘fantastic reflection of the diversity of work’ undertaken by road safety professionals.
Talking about the current situation, she said over the last six months ‘all of us have had to adapt and change the way we work to ensure the vital services we offer continue to reach their audiences’.
She acknowledged this has required a ‘huge undertaking’ by road safety teams across the country, and shows how much the profession has evolved and adapted over the years – both by design and through necessity.
Looking to the immediate future, she said: “We are going to have to continue to adapt and change at a pace for some while as yet, alongside financial challenges – so identifying and grabbing opportunities will be incredibly important.”
With many RSOs struggling to access schools, Philippa said it is important to remain resilient and find ways to ensure road safety education continues to be delivered in a ‘meaningful and impactful way’.
She signposted listeners to the Road Safety GB website news feed which has showcased the efforts of authorities who have worked creatively to deliver services.
Philippa touched on the subject of e-scooters. With legislation on the way to enable them to be rolled out nationally, she said road safety professionals must engage with manufacturers to ensure they don’t simply pay ‘lip service’ to safety.
She also stressed the importance of educating riders on their safe use, which will be ‘incredibly challenging’ – but given the increasing numbers being used illegally, this is ‘not something we should turn a blind eye to’.
Returning to Road Safety GB, she described the regional groups as the organisation’s ‘life blood’, and urged any groups that are struggling in the current period to get in contact, pledging that the Board ‘will look to see how we can support you’.
Philippa also promised a new quarterly update from the chair to members, advising them of progress on Road Safety GB business and spotlighting some of the ‘fantastic work’ of the regional groups.