Honor Byford, chair of Road Safety GB has returned to the UK having spent last week delivering a series of presentations at an international road safety congress in St Petersburg.
The Sixth International Congress (28-30 Sept) was themed ‘Road Safety for the Safety of Life’ and focused on the role of civil society in improving road safety.
The congress was jointly organised by the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and the Inter-parliamentary Assembly of Member Nations of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), in liaison with the Ministry of the Interior of the Russian Federation.
The Russian Interior Ministry has set a target to double road construction by 2022 and is seeking to incorporate safety systems and safer behaviours within that target.
Topics covered in the plenary session and roundtable discussions included: involving civil society in public policy on road safety; developing partnership working between public authorities, businesses and civil society; raising awareness and knowledge of safe driving and safe road use, and instilling a ‘road culture’ among road users.
Honor Byford said: “The exhibition which ran alongside the conference included educational programmes, publicity campaigns and interventions from the 11 countries represented at the event. These included interactive whiteboard learning for primary aged children and virtual reality role-play for teenagers.
“The ‘roundtable’ discussions were all well attended and comprised a mix of accounts of new interventions and campaigns, and robust debate and criticism of government departments and agencies.
“The moderators for these sessions took details of proposals and requests for changes to Commonwealth agreements and resolutions.
“Government departments were represented at every session, including a chief prosecutor from Moscow who endured a particularly hard time about the enforcement of road traffic laws to protect pedestrians and disabled parking.
“I presented at two of the roundtable sessions, firstly to introduce Road Safety GB and outline our aim to see road user education in the curriculum. In the second session I spoke about the Road Safety GB Academy and the professional training we provide and accredit, how we endorse programmes and our network of data analysts.
“I was also asked to speak about disability, accessibility and sustainability in relation to road safety in the UK.
“I was asked questions about ‘inclusion’ legislation and the risks to health from growing car ownership – Russian colleagues were very keen to learn from our experiences.
“On the final day everyone came together in full conference to discuss and agree final decisions.
“I delivered a further presentation during this session on the work of Road Safety GB and our main aims.
“Although the structure of the conference was different to our National Road Safety Conference, the commitment, enthusiasm and energy of the delegates were just the same!”
The picture shows school based ‘traffic cadets’ promoting road safety and asking adults and children to make a pledge for one thing they will try to improve in their own use of the roads. Honor came away thinking it would be nice to link some of the UK’s JRSO (junior road safety officer) schools with these Russian children to share their experiences and ideas.