Road users must ‘understand their contribution’ to the Safe Systems approach

14.50 | 25 November 2021 |

Festival soundbite: “When you talk to partnerships there is a blame culture that seeps through – it is always someone else’s fault.”

Those are the words of road safety consultant Iain Temperton in a live presentation delivered as part of the Festival of Road Safety.

The presentation-cum-workshop, titled “How road safety partnerships can fully embrace the Safe System approach and make it stick!”, was jointly facilitated by Iain Temperton from Traject Road Safety and Tanya Fosdick from Agilysis.

Tanya and Iain have worked together with a number of road safety partnerships around the country, reviewing structure, strategy, delivery and evaluation regimes, while also introducing international concepts including Vision Zero and Safe Systems.

By utilising a mix of research, evidence, public opinion and partner insight they have reshaped several partnerships and written ‘ambitious yet realistic strategies’ for the coming decades.

While no two partnerships are the same, there are common themes and issues that arise which Tanya and Iain explored and discussed in the presentation, to provide their ‘unique insight’ into the current UK road safety landscape.

When asked to expand on the ‘blame culture’ point, Iain Temperton said there are two elements to this.

First, among the partners themselves there is sometimes a ‘lack of clarity and communication which can lead to a lack of trust’. For example, he said local authorities and blue light organisations often work in silos, which can lead to suggestions that ‘so and so isn’t doing enough etc’ . In contrast, the Safe System approach requires people to work together.

Second, he suggested some road safety practitioners are ‘still in the same mindset as the road using public’ in terms of apportioning blame to certain road user groups.

Summarising at the end of the presentation, Iain highlighted four steps that the ‘best practice partnerships’ have tended to take.

First, he said completing an honest review helps with having the right mindset by ensuring the right structure is in place, with partners accountable for the delivery of a Safe System.

Second, he stressed the importance of using data and evidence to understand priorities and inform activities – which links to the third step, the adoption of ambitious targets and methods for measuring performance.

Finally, Iain emphasised the need to embrace the concept of shared responsibility and bringing new partners to the table to help deliver on all elements of the Safe System – and working with road users to ‘understand their contribution to the system’, rather than ‘just delivering road safety to them and maintaining a one-sided relationship’.



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