#RSGB2016 | Public Health and Road Safety – as it happened

12.00 | 16 November 2016 |


This Public Health and Road Safety session features five presentations: 

  • Matt Staton and Dr Roderick Mackenzie: Public Health, Trauma and Road Safety: A Holistic Approach to Partnership Working
  • Adrian Davis: Population strategies and the prevention paradox as applied to road safety in Bristol: A public health approach
  • John Plowman: The work of the Older Drivers Task Force
  • Kris Beuret and Heather Ward: Children and Independent Travel
  • Nick Butler: Modeshift STARS – safe and active travel awards for schools

Matt Staton, Road Safety Education Team Leader at Cambridgeshire County Council and Dr Roderick Mackenzie, Clinical Director of the East of England Major Trauma Centre at Cambridge University Hospitals.
Presentation: Public Health, Trauma and Road Safety: A Holistic Approach to Partnership Working

The presentation covers why a holistic approach is important, how the integration has been managed (recognising some of the challenges) and look at some of the work this is enabling us to undertake going forward.

Key points:

  • Road traffic related injury remains the commonest cause of life threatening and life changing traumatic injury in the UK.
  • Regionalisation of major trauma care in the UK has, through post-injury management, improved our ability to preserve life and reduce disability.
  • There are obvious synergies between road safety and wider public health aims and objectives, and also some opportunities to review the way we have worked previously.
  • A holistic approach to partnership working across public health, trauma care and victim support services alongside the traditional emergency service, local authority and highway authority partners can provide better outcomes for our residents and road users.
  • Utilising these links, the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Road Safety Partnership has improved information sharing and is undertaking an innovative research project to look in detail at the prevention of crashes that cause severe injury and death.


Rod McKenzie
It is important to think of road injury as any other disease
12 people per 100,000 of the population suffer major trauma each year
Road traffic collisions remains the commonest cause of severe or life threatening major trauma
We need to join up and share data to understand the nature of disease
43% of victims were not responsible for the event
Linking NHS data with STATS19 data to get a better picture of the burden of disease.
Matt Staton
Developed strong relationship with public health team and significant proportion of funding comes from public health
Victim support is a key element of the partnership (Road Victims Trust)
Partnership looking at reducing the impact of collisions

Rod McKenzie
If we think differently about profiling victims and culpable persons (high risk) – can we change the way we think about targeting road safety prevention?
Targeting Road Injury Prevention (TRIP) – a different way of thinking about road injury prevention

Adrian Davis, visiting professor, University of West England
Presentation: Population strategies and the prevention paradox as applied to road safety in Bristol: A public health approach

This presentation charts the application of the Rose Theory – the value of population level strategies to achieve most public health gain – in developing and implementing both the city-wide 20mph programme and the subsequent Safe Systems Approach to Road Safety in the City of Bristol between 2009-2015. It challenges traditional approaches to road safety and suggests that public health guidance should no longer be a matter of chance but rather be integral to systems thinking in ending the resignation to the needless scourge of road danger and injuries as a sacrifice for mobility.

Key points:

  • Road safety has needed a strategy which shows how it integrates and supports wider public policy goals (HoC Select Committee, 2008).
  • The need for tapping into existing but largely unutilised robust evidence base.
  • To challenge the gross disparities between richer and poorer in RTCs
  • To look to population level strategies in helping to achieve better policy integration and reduced inequalities.
  • To utilise a safe systems approach as a delivery mechanism.
  • To consider how each and every highways team accesses and utilises an evidence hierachy approach to best available evidence.
  • Engages with the public regarding the need for road safety interventions which support wider policy goals – thus not necessarily business as usual.


 There is a large gap between what we know and what we practise

 Historically we have used things we call evidence which academics would throw in the bin

Important to have a clear audit trail for why we take actions

Population level interventions – interventions which ask people to make a small change in behaviour can deliver big wins

A 1mph reduction in speeds can deliver a 6% reduction in collisions

Small change – big difference – should be using this approach more

Vision for Bristol – a city safe enough for a 10-year old to walk independently to school safely

The primacy of an evidence based approach – the power of science of the population level strategies

Should not all transport departments have someone trained in evidence reviews?

John Plowman, chair of the Older Drivers Task Force
Presentation: The work of the Older Drivers Task Force

The report of the Older Drivers Task Force, Supporting Safe Driving into Old Age, sets out a national older driver strategy. People are living longer, healthier, more active lives and driving safely for longer. The influx of older drivers has important social and economic value but also presents road safety risks if nothing is done to adapt.

Some 25 experts and organisations analysed the latest international evidence, available technology and road safety schemes and made a number of recommendations amongst which are:

  • The mandatory fitness to drive self- declaration for licence renewal should be raised from 70 to 75
  • There should be compulsory eye-testing for licence renewal from the age of 75
  • A “silver” NCAP rating should be developed for car designs that specifically protects older, potentially frailer, drivers.
  • Road design, signs and markings should be improved to meet the highest international standards specifically for older drivers but with benefits for all.
  • There should be better information, financial incentives and schemes to encourage older drivers to undertake voluntary fitness to drive appraisals.
  • There should be a minister with responsibility for older drivers.
  • Insurers should pool research into the statistically rare major claims involving older drivers to understand the detailed causes.


The majority of elderly drivers live in areas of low population density

Driver aged 70+ have 13% of licences, but 20% of deaths

Older people tend to drive smaller and lighter cars (which come off worst in collisions)

Drivers aged 70 and over are involved in fewer crashes and are less of a danger to other road users

Older drivers are less likely to have accidents because of speed – but they are likely to have more right of way violations

More likely to have fatal accidents at junctions after the age of 60

The percentage of crashes that involve turning right across traffic increases at age 50

Problems seem to develop after age of 75-80yrs

Driver assessment – the Hampshire model works well

No case for another test (no safety benefits)

Increased fragility with age puts older drivers at risk, along with poor occupant protection in cars (especially women)

Older drivers a re not a significant threat to other road users

Need a package of measures to retain confidence of safe older drivers

Kris Beuret OBE, director of Social Research Associates and Heather Ward, honorary senior research Fellow, UCL
Presentation: Children and Independent Travel

The Independent Transport Commission has recently published an Occasional Paper “Children and Travel” authored by Kris Beuret.

This included a short chapter on ‘children and road safety’ which raised the dilemmas between encouraging children to travel independently and concern about road safety. Issues raised include the decline in unaccompanied journeys to school, the lack of strategic age related intervention work and the trade-off between lower speeds and an increase in slight child casualties.

These issues are being explored in more depth and with new research in this presentation.

Key points: 

  • Children are travelling less
  • Children are travelling less independently
  • So how are we doing in in terms of child road safety compared to the rest of the world?
  • Does risk increase or decrease by socio economic variables? How can tell?
  • Parents are ‘afraid’ to allow children to travel Independently – does this matter?
  • Is the road safety profession ‘ducking’ this issue? 



Kris Beuret
Children are spending a lot more time in doors and on screens

Fewer trips by car, rail, walking & cycling

Travelling less independently (especially to school)

Why does this matter – affects children’s ability to understand academic subjects

Attitudinal findings
Children want to go out more on their own but parents are nervous and discourage this

Lot of frustration and lack of advice

Heather Ward
Last year there were 54 child fatalities in Britain, and more than 2,000 children were seriously injured

Many local authority areas have no child deaths and few serious injuries – because of this are we forgetting children?

We still have a long way to go in protecting children as pedestrians but have done very well protecting them in cars

The risk is not evenly distributed evenly among the population – highly concentrated in areas of deprivation

Kris Beuret
Are we as road safety professionals discouraging independent travel?

Are we paying enough attention to concerns about personal safety in road safety projects?

Would risks be reduced by new approaches to training which encourage independence, and acknowledge children’s desire to play out’?

Nick Butler, national STARS manager
Presentation: Modeshift STARS – safe and active travel awards for schools

The presentation will focus specifically on the intrinsic links between active travel and road safety in the Modeshift STARS scheme and how the two must be given equal attention in order to ensure that young people are able to choose safer and more active options for the journey to school.

Key points:

  • An introduction to Modeshift STARS – the National School Travel Awards Scheme
  • Success of the Modeshift STARS scheme to date
  • Delivering a coordinated package of measures to bring about behaviour change
  • How the scheme compliments road safety activity
  • How road safety compliments the scheme
  • The potential for partnership working


To get more children walking & cycling you must deliver a range of initiatives & activities (information, infrastructure, incentives, and skills)

There are more than 140 separate initiatives that a school can complete in STARS

62 local authorities participating in STARS, including all 33 London boroughs

2,300 schools registered for STARS



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