Road safety news in brief: March 2017

12.00 | 31 March 2017 |

31 Mar: 09.30
Cardboard cut-out traffic officers used in April fools’ initiative 
Thousands of motorists in County Mayo will be duped by an April fool’s trick with a difference, life-size cardboard cut-outs of a police officers carrying speed guns.

The pop-up officers have been used across Mayo to crack down on drivers who exceed speed limits and endanger communities in the past and are once again been deployed as a partnership approach to saving lives.

Using the message ‘Don’t be fooled — speed kills’, Mayo County Council initiative has the support of local gardaí (police) and looks to highlight the need for driving within the speed limit.

Noel Gibbons, road safety officer with Mayo County Council, said: “Reducing speeding on country roads is incredibly important. Rural areas are far more difficult to police and it is important that every effort is made to improve road safety.

“As ludicrous as they sound, cardboard cops, have proven to be a cost-efficient and effective way of reducing speeding on rural roads.

“People might feel fooled if they slow down when they see the speed-gun in the distance, only to find out it was only a cardboard cut-out. Others might go past it above the speed limit, and feel some relief when it was not a real speed check, but Mayo County Council and An Garda Síochána are committed in working together to saving lives.’’


30 Mar: 11.00
New survey seeks views on motorcycling
Insure The Box is encouraging motorists to take part in a new survey which aims to find out the public perception of motorcyclists and how it differs between those who have ridden a powered two wheeler (PTW) themselves.

Produced with the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA), Insure The Box says it is particularly interested in finding out young driver’s views and to establish whether those who have only recently passed their test are conscious of vulnerable road users.

The survey also looks to find out how opinions differ among those who have been involved in an incident with a PTW previously.

The survey’s results will form part of an Insure The Box road safety campaign planned later for this year.

As a thank you, survey participants can enter into a prize draw for a chance to win one of five £20 Amazon vouchers.

Click here to take part in the survey.


28 Mar: 12.30
Children in Scotland benefit from training kit donation
The children of Dumfries and Galloway are benefiting from a road safety training kit that teaches them how to navigate roads in a safe environment, after it was donated to the area’s Fire and Rescue Service.

Keltic Clothing’s ‘Street Feet Road Safety Training Kit’ was donated by local businessman Raymond Boyd, who says that he hopes the kit will help more local children learn basic road safety.

Street Feet is a road safety training kit that allows children to learn how to safely navigate roads whilst in a safe environment. It models real life roads and crossings and features role-play tabards that teach children the meaning of signs, lights and crossings.

Children play the role of different road users allowing them to become aware of road patterns and their responsibilities. It’s a fun and interactive experience for children and it encourages deep learning.

Mr Boyd said: “As road accidents claim many lives and cause so many disabilities and injuries to children, I felt this was an ideal opportunity to help with the teaching of basic road safety to our local children.

“Street Feet is a great aid to doing this and I was more than happy to buy this pack to donate to the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service who now go out into the educational establishments and get the message across to local children.”

Keltic Clothing said: “It gives us great joy to hear that Street Feet is facilitating the road safety training of many children in Dumfries and Galloway thanks to Mr Boyd’s kind generosity.

“We are proud that our product is having a positive impact on the lives of so many children and that people are recognising the good that can come from investing in these kits.”


27 Mar: 13.45
America: Uber suspends self-driving cars after crash
Uber has pulled its self-driving cars from the roads after an accident which left one of the vehicles on its side. (BBC News)

Pictures posted online showed the car on its right side on an Arizona street, next to another badly damaged vehicle.

The car – a Volvo SUV – was in self-driving mode at the time of the crash, on Friday, Uber said. No one was hurt.

Josie Montenegro, spokeswoman for the police in Tempe, Arizona told BBC News the accident occurred when another vehicle ‘failed to yield’ to the Uber car at a left turn.

She said: "There was a person behind the wheel. It is uncertain at this time if they were controlling the vehicle at the time of the collision."

Click here to read the full BBC News report.


24 Mar: 11.00
Brake renews calls to make roads ‘safer and brighter’ in the evenings
With the clocks going forward this weekend, Brake is calling on the UK government to commit to moving to Single/Double Summer Time (SDST) which would require us to move our clocks forward an additional hour all year round. More


21 Mar: 14.45
Move towards driverless cars ‘must not produce lazy drivers’ – IAM RoadSmart
IAM RoadSmart has expressed concern that cars with growing levels of autonomy could make motorists lazy and over reliant on gadgets – with far reaching implications for the potential reduction of people killed and seriously injured on the roads.

The road safety charity made the call in response to a House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report, titled ‘Connected and Autonomous Vehicles: The future?’, which was published last week.

The report sets out recommendations for the government to ensure it makes policy and investment decisions that enable the UK to receive maximum economic and safety benefits from autonomous vehicles.

IAM RoadSmart also says that there is widespread concern from the charity’s members about the ease with which a driverless car could be hacked, pointing to research which suggests there are many places security could be breached in a modern vehicle on sale today.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “When it comes to driverless cars, IAM RoadSmart members are not keen to give up full control and are also very concerned about hacking, so we welcome the House of Lords Technology Committee’s view that cyber security is an important issue. 

“The implications for future driver competence and training as we become more reliant on technology are still far from clear, and it is vital that the government supports the committee’s call for further research in this area.

21 Mar: 12.00
TyreSafe encouraging entries for 2017 award
TyreSafe, the UK’s tyre safety awareness charity, is calling all road safety stakeholders to prepare submissions to demonstrate their tyre safety awareness activities during 2016.

Entries for the categories are welcomed from members and non-members of TyreSafe and can span a range of initiatives from social media and online campaigns to tyre workshops, themed events and local displays.

Winners will be presented with their awards at an evening ceremony at The Belfry, Wishaw, on 6 July. The event will be attended by senior members of the road safety community, representatives from the tyre and vehicle manufacturing and retail industries, and guests.

Single or multiple entries are invited for each of the following categories:

  • Independent garage award
  • Franchise dealership award
  • Tyre manufacturer award
  • Tyre retailer award
  • Vehicle manufacturer award
  • Best use of technology to support a tyre safety campaign
  • Safety in the community award
  • Emergency services award
  • On-line and social media award

Outstanding achievement award – This special award will recognise the entry which demonstrates the most exceptional contribution to tyre safety and is awarded at the judges’ discretion.

Stuart Jackson, TyreSafe chairman, said: “The contribution made by organisations and companies across the country in making the UK’s roads safer is significant and we are keen to highlight and celebrate their commitment with the TyreSafe Awards. Whether you are a retailer, manufacturer, blue light service or tyre safety stakeholder, please make sure you have entered the TyreSafe Awards 2017.”

The deadline for entries is 31 March.

Click here for more information on the awards, including how to enter.


20 Mar: 14.45
Line-up complete for Hackney Cycling Conference
The full agenda for the 2017 Hackney Cycling Conference, titled ‘Cycling as a catalyst for healthy neighbourhoods’, has been announced.

Taking place at Hackney Town Hall on 27 April, the sixth edition of the conference will focus on cycling’s role in the future of London and other cities. The event is expected to once again attract more than 200 attendees.

The agenda will explore the developing policy context and showcase approaches to help create healthy streets, and the associated improvements to air quality and quality of life of Londoners, and encourage a shift from car to bike for short trips.

A presentation by Dr Ben Goldacre, one of the country’s most important advocates of evidence-based policy making, promises to be one of the highlights of the day.

Dr Goldacre, who co-authored a 2012 Cabinet Office paper on getting more randomised controlled trials on policy questions, will talk about the use of science in policy making and how to improve the evidence base by spotting and avoiding common mistakes in the use of science and statistics.

The agenda also includes presentations by Meg Hillier MP, chair of Public Accounts Committee and All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group committee member, Dr Will Norman, London’s Walking and Cycling Commissioner, and Peter Murray, chairman of New London Architecture.

Co-hosted by Hackney Council, Steer Davies Gleave and the Hackney Cycling Campaign, the Hackney Cycling Conference has become a fixture in the calendar of professionals, campaigners, and elected members eager to hear new ideas from a range of speakers.

Click here for more information about the event, including full details of the agenda and how to book to attend.


20 Mar: 09.15
Workshop teaches importance of hi-vis during British Science week
To mark British Science Week (10-19 March), 90 primary school children took part in a workshop designed to highlight the importance of being safe and seen.

‘Make a High Vis Tag’ was organised by Brightkidz social enterprise, and saw children use upcycled high vis waistcoats. The pupils then went on to test the reflective elements using a ‘black box’ experiment.

The workshop is described in detail on the Brightkidz website, so that other educators can use the ideas to host their own activity.

Alison Holland, Brightkidz founder, said: “The pupils really enjoyed the sessions; it was a fun, practical and low-cost way to get across the ‘fluorescent for day, reflective for night’ message.”

For more information, contact Alison Holland via email, or on 01536 526461.

Founded in 2003, Brightkidz promotes safe, active, sustainable travel for children.


17 Mar: 13.00
Call made for Scotland to introduce ‘zero-tolerance’ drug policy
Road safety charity Brake is calling on the Scottish government to introduce a zero-tolerance policy for drug driving on the nation’s roads.

In 2015, England and Wales introduced a drug driving ban, making it an offence to drive with certain controlled drugs (both illicit and some prescription-only drugs). However, this law does not apply to Scotland or Northern Ireland.   

Since the drug driving ban was introduced, Brake says drug-driving arrests have ‘soared’ in police forces across England and Wales. Figures show that between March 2015 and April 2016 almost 8,000 people were arrested for the offence. The number of convictions for careless driving under the influence of drugs also rose from 1,039 in 2014 to 1,490 in 2015.

The call comes today (17 March) as the Scottish National Party begins its annual Spring Conference in Aberdeen. 

Brake says drug driving is a major problem, hampering driver reaction time and encouraging dangerous behaviours that put the individual and other road users at risk.

Brake also points to the latest available UK figures, from 2015, which show that 62 fatal crashes were a result of impairment by illicit drugs.

Gary Rae, campaigns director for Brake, said: “As the governing party gathers in Aberdeen, I want to send the First Minister a clear message that her government needs to root out dangerous and potentially deadly driving by introducing a drug-driving law. 

“There’s evidence that the law is working in the other nations of the UK and will work in Scotland.” 


16 Mar: 13.15
Conference will discuss how child road safety initiatives can thrive in tough times
Against the backdrop of funding cuts which have taken place in recent years, the Child Accident Prevention Trust’s (CAPT) annual seminar will highlight examples of promising initiatives that continue to thrive.

The seminar, titled ‘Road safety, children and young people – innovation in tough times: what matters and what works?’, is being held in Camden, London, on 29 March (10am-3pm).

The presentations and topics will include:

  • Using new ‘Clevertouch’ screens to get safety messages across to young people in Milton Keynes to prevent deaths on grid roads – Jo Green, director, Hazard Alley Safety Centre
  • Bikes, Big Trucks & You’ – reducing the risks associated with walking and cycling near large goods vehicles – Cheryl Evans, traffic & road safety team, West Berkshire Council and Steve Ferris, Safer Roads Berkshire
  • New educational resources; using humour in road safety education; road crossing patrols and more

Kevin Lowe, head of consultancy and training services, said: “With big cuts in funds in recent years, local areas have had to make tough decisions about which road safety initiatives to prioritise in relation to children and young people, often only focusing on the basics. But this has not meant that innovation has ended.

“CAPT’s free road safety seminar will highlight examples of promising initiatives that have been developed in response to restricted resources, as well as others that have been protected and continue to thrive.

“This friendly, informal event will consider how the need for the work was identified, how it has been funded and how it is being sustained.

“There will be plenty of opportunity for discussion and the chance for participants to share examples of their work and to discuss the challenges they are tackling."

For more information about the seminar, contact Kevin Lowe by email or on 020 7608 7363. To book a place at the free event, email Lise Hansen.


13 Mar: 16.00
Interactive graphic highlights evolution of the car – and car safety! has produced a new interactive graphic highlighting the evolution of the car – including a number of road safety features.

‘Carvolution’ has been produced with the help of Road Safety GB, who provided information on topics such as the Green Cross Code, breath testing and seatbelts.

Other stakeholders involved in the project included IAM RoadSmart and Euro NCAP.

Click here to find out more.

13 Mar: 14.30
Signs of success for North East road safety competition winners
Pupils from two primary schools in County Durham have seen their artwork turned into real road safety signs after winning a competition in the region.

Ofe Isanbor and Amelia Parker from St Joseph’s RCVA Primary School in Gilesgate, Durham and Divine Erhunmwunse from St Hild’s College CE Primary School in Durham were accompanied by their families and staff from our road safety team to the William Smith factory in Barnard Castle where they saw their designs become actual 20mph zone safety signs.  

The signs will be erected on Mill Lane and Renny’s Lane in Gilesgate to alert drivers that they are entering a 20mph zone.

Cllr Brian Stephens, portfolio holder for Neighbourhoods and Local Partnerships, said: "The competition was part of the council’s Slow to 20 for Safer Street project and we wanted to get the children involved as they are the prime beneficiaries of increased safety around their schools through reduced speed. 

"We hope Ofe, Amelia, Divine and their families enjoyed their visit and we’d also like to thank the staff of William Smith who surprised the children with unique commemorative signs of their own."

Click here to find out more.


09 Mar: 16.00
Singer puts up ‘drive safe’ signs after ‘driving at 90’ controversy
Ed Sheeran is funding posters asking motorists to drive safely, after one of his lyrics prompted a safety warning from police. (BBC News)

The singer, who lives near Framlingham in Suffolk, was pulled up on Twitter by a local roads policing sergeant after singing about ‘driving at 90 down those country lanes’ in a song titled Castle on the Hill.

       Picture: Suffolk RoadSafe

Sgt Chris Harris, from Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing, posted a plea on Twitter for people to ‘slow down on Suffolk roads’ in response to the reference about driving at 90mph.

Sheeran said the blue posters, saying ‘drive safe’, are being placed around parts of his home county.

He told the BBC: "I’m not encouraging speeding at all, I’m just singing it in a song.

"We have a marketing spend for this album and I wanted to do some sort of billboards in Suffolk.

"We thought it would be quite funny instead of having billboards saying the album is out, just having a blue sign that says ‘drive safe’."

Click here to read more (via BBC News).


08 Mar: 12.30
‘Concerning’ rise in MoT failures due to defects with tyre safety system
TyreSafe has expressed its concern over ‘skyrocketing’ MoT failure rates caused by defects with vehicles’ Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS), and the implication it has on road safety.

More than 23,000 vehicles required a retest following identification of TPMS issues in 2016 compared with around 7,000 in 2015 – an ‘enormous’ year-on-year rise of 212%.

Stuart Jackson, TyreSafe chairman, says the leap in MoT failures due to TPMS defects ‘underlines that a poor attitude to tyre safety’, which is not an issue ‘exclusively associated’ with older vehicles.

TPMS became mandatory on all new passenger vehicles sold after 1 November 2014 as a safety feature desgined to help reduce the number of vehicles being driven with tyre pressures significantly below the recommended settings.

Such vehicles are not only more difficult to control, increasing the risk of an incident, but also consume more fuel and wear their tyres out more quickly. TPMS notifies the driver to a variance in tyre pressure by illuminating a warning light on the dashboard and, in some cases, sounding an audible alert thereby offering motorists the opportunity to rectify the issue.

Stuart Jackson added: “TyreSafe urges motorists to put tyre safety higher up their list of driving priorities and check their tyres and TPMS are in roadworthy condition.”


06 Mar: 12.45
Technology the focus of RoSPA’s annual conference
Technology’s role in the changing face of road safety will be the theme at this year’s RoSPA Road Safety Conference, which takes place on Thursday (9 March).

This year’s conference marks 100 years since the foundations of RoSPA were created, with the event covering issues such as driverless vehicles, hands-free phones, virtual reality’s role in educating the next generation of drivers, 20mph limits and zones, new road safety policy, and child car seats.

Speakers include Dr Margaret Peden, coordinator for unintentional injury prevention at the World Health Organisation, Mel Jones, transportation behaviour change manager at Birmingham City Council, Nick Lloyd, RoSPA’s road safety manager, Paul Speight, watch manager for Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service, and Mark Bennett, European senior technical and training manager at Britax.

There will also be exhibitors including Continental Automotive, Exeros-Technologies, FirstCar, and The Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS).

Nick Lloyd said: “So much of what we do on the road today is dictated and affected by changing technology and its usage. It’s important that as road safety professionals, we come together to consider the factors which will change the demands placed upon us, so that we can prepare policies and programmes which deliver safer roads for the future.

“The conference will be of interest to all road safety practitioners, researchers, policy makers and stakeholders.”


03 Mar: 12.30
Mayo campaign calls on drivers to share the road
Mayo County Council has launched a new campaign asking drivers to be more aware of other road users.

Launched as winter starts to turn into spring, the campaign encourages drivers to look twice and to share the road.

The campaign has the backing of 27-year-old Tojo Lazzari, who suffered life changing injuries when a motorist failed to see him at a junction.

Aged 21 at the time of the incident, Mr Lazzari, a keen athlete, was on his motorbike, traveling from Castlebar to his family Home in Co Clare.

A tractor pulled out of a junction into his path, with the resulting collision causing Mr Lazzari (pictured below) to be thrown over the top of the vehicle and onto the road. As a result, he lost his arm.

After some time in hospital, and months recovering from his physical injuries, he was able to return to training and now represents Ireland regularly on the para-triathlon squad.

Tojo Lazzari said: “I hope that supporting this campaign by Mayo County Council it ensures that something positive comes out of my accident and the difficult period that followed.

“If I can help them to raise enough awareness to prevent even one more accident, this campaign will be worthwhile.”

Noel Gibbons, road safety officer, Mayo County Council, said: “This time of year is popular with motorcyclists and cyclists, as the weather starts to improve and the nights get lighter. However, unfortunately the reality is that bikers are still over-represented in road traffic collisions.

“This is a really important campaign to highlight the vulnerability of bikers/cyclists on Irish roads. There are many cases of collisions involving vulnerable road users where they appeared to have taken place at junctions or in another situation where a motorist failed to see them.

“As the motorcycling season gets fully underway and more cyclists are taking to the road, we want to remind both riders and drivers of their joint responsibility to keep each other safe.

“We hope launching this campaign it acts as a clear reminder to all road users to look out for each other on all of the counties roads and puts a human face on the other side of the windscreen.”


02 Mar: 14.45
Scotland’s roads to see extra drive on maintenance
Scotland’s trunk roads are set for a maintenance investment boost with a rise in funding for improvements across the network.

Announced by Transport Scotland in a press release on 25 February, the maintenance budget will rise from £165m in 2016/2017 to more than £199m in 2017/2018.  

Transport Scotland says this will mean that more safety work, inspections and bridge maintenance will be carried out with additional repairs to road surfaces to address potholes and other defects.

Derek Mackay, finance secretary, said: “The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring that the trunk road network remains safe and efficient to support our economy.

“This additional investment in trunk road maintenance helps us realise our strategic aims and brings economic benefits.  It supports jobs and will also improve the infrastructure of our public services for years to come.

“The additional funding will allow Transport Scotland to go out and make the repairs that will not only improve conditions for road users but will also extend the life of our trunk roads.  The work that I’ve seen on the M8 is a good example of the on-going improvements that are carried out every day across the country.

“This is an exciting time for our transport infrastructure with some of our major projects due to come online in the coming months, including the major upgrade of our central motorway network.”


01 Mar: 14.30
Get to know the ‘Fatal 5’ – Road Safety Wales
A Road Safety Wales information leaflet and poster have been updated to make road users aware of the five main causes of road traffic collisions and injuries.

The bilingual leaflet covers the following:

Don’t Drink/Drug Drive – Don’t risk being one of the 100,000 drink or drug drivers caught each year, or you could face a minimum 12 month ban, a large fine, a criminal record or even imprisonment.

Kill Your Speed – You are twice as likely to kill someone you hit at 35mph than you are at 30mph. Just a 1mph cut in average speed can result in a 5% reduction in the collision rate.

Don’t Get Careless – A vehicle can become a lethal weapon when driven carelessly. Getting a fixed penalty will result in a £100 fine and three points on your licence. Causing death by dangerous driving can mean a prison sentence of up to 14 years.

Belt Up – You are twice as likely to die if you don’t belt up. Not wearing a seatbelt can be a fatal decision, even on short, familiar journeys and at low speed. As a driver you are responsible for ensuring that passengers under the age of 14 are wearing a seatbelt (or using the correct child restraint for their height and age.) On the spot fines are £100, but if prosecuted, the maximum is £500.

Switch It Off – You are four times more likely to crash if you use a mobile phone whilst driving, whatever you’re doing with it. The consequences for using your phone behind the wheel are a £200 fine and 6 points on your licence. And if you cause a death, you could face up to 14 years imprisonment.

Copies of the Fatal 5 leaflet are available (in Wales) from local road safety officers – click here to find their details.

Click here to read news in brief from February 2017.



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