Survey lifts the lid on reader comments

11.31 | 16 April 2018 | | 7 comments

While the vast majority of Road Safety News readers rarely or never comment on news items, they nevertheless feel that, on balance, the discussion threads enhance the newsfeed.

That’s the headline finding from a survey carried out by the editorial team at Road Safety News, to test the water with regard to reader comments and discussion threads.

The same survey was circulated to two different groups – local authority road safety officers and other Road Safety News subscribers – both of which recorded very similar views.

The newsfeed appears to be popular and widely read, with 77% of RSOs and 71% of all subscribers visiting it at least once a week.

Despite 57% of RSOs and 63% of other subscribers stating they never comment on news stories, a combined total of 65% believe the discussion threads improved the newsfeed (68% of RSOs and 64% of others).

That sentiment is reflected in the fact that 100% of RSOs – and 98% of subscribers – read the discussion threads at least ‘every now and again’.

If discussion threads were removed, 63% of RSOs and 61% of other subscribers said it would make no difference to the frequency with which they visit the newsfeed.

In a question only asked to RSOs; 53% said the newsfeed is ‘very useful’ in their role as a road safety professional, with a further 44% describing it as ‘quite useful’.

Nick Rawlings, editor or Road Safety News, said: “Moderating reader comments and managing the discussion threads is quite a time-consuming task for our very small editorial team.

“We carried out the survey to see whether the resources we put into this are justified – and the response from both road safety officers and our wider readership indicates that it is.

“There were a number of adverse comments about the small number of contributors who tend to monopolise discussion threads – probably because they have plenty of time on their hands – and about the negative tone of many of the posts.

“Despite this, our readers value the newsfeed and enjoy reading the discussion threads, so we shall continue as we are.

“I would, however, take this opportunity to appeal to the very small number of contributors who post, by any measure, far too frequently.

“Our readers tire of hearing your views, and often switch off and don’t bother reading your comments – you would have far more impact if you posted less frequently.”


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    Interesting that a recent news article about the retirement of a long-serving RSO moved some hitherto unknown readers to post well-meaning and no doubt well-deserved praise and best wishes, but have not felt moved enough to comment on, for instance, P Wilson’s equally well-meant suggestions (below) for discussion on subjects which it may be said, are far more pertinent to the wider readership and the raison d’etre of RSGB. (Nice try P Wilson…. early days though). If it’s any help, I’ll opt out.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (3) | Disagree (3)

    I have no doubt that I am one of those that too regularly have an input on this site.

    I make no apologies for that at all. I have nothing to apologise for. I have a belief that what I am doing is the right thing and that some mistakes or errors have been made in the past that need rectifying. That said I am fully aware that in some order I am fighting a losing battle against what I call institutionalisation and the existing status quo. When I have actually addressed my concerns to various bodies personally they all sing from the same hymn book. Denying any wrong doing and in many cases they defend themselves by hiding behind some other authority, as if they cannot make their own minds up and are therefore like sheep following the one in front not knowing where they are going or where they will end up. They will never admit that they are in any way at fault.

    Bob Craven
    Agree (5) | Disagree (7)

    Nick – in relation to the survey and some of the comments already received regarding the lack of comments from RSOs. I am aware at the present time RSOs would only be too happy to comment but they would need to do it under a nom de plume or get somebody to post on their behalf as they are constrained by their authorities/employers positions on certain topical road safety issues.

    At present those in road safety do the job because they have a passion for it and do have opinions, they just have to hide them.

    Unlike in times past,when travelling the length and breadth of the UK on road safety business development and being told by one RSO that my chances of arranging an appointment with a neighbouring RSO were about the same as meeting Elvis down the local chip shop. When asking why this was – I received the response that the individual did not answer his phone, does not attend meetings and does not reply to any type of correspondence and was not really interested in road safety. He has now long since retired!

    Bill Smith, Glasgow
    Agree (4) | Disagree (1)

    The French proposals contain some quite revolutionary ideas, some of which will not be welcomed by many drivers. I was interested to read that they propose to reward those who have managed to accrue no penalty points on their licences. That follows sound behaviour change principles in that the law-abiding majority are presented as the norm instead of always concentrating on those who break the rules. It will be interesting to see what rewards might be offered. At present all we do is offer decent drivers the potential to save on their insurance premiums through no claims discounts.

    David, Suffolk
    Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

    Sometimes I comment playing Devil’s advocate, other times to try to contribute to the debate. What I feel is important is sending to Nick anything in the media which he may be able to use. Personal stories are out but things like this should be out there for debate.

    The French government has announced a series of measures aimed at cutting rising road deaths and ridding drivers of certain bad habits. Here’s a look at what is planned to make driving in France safer. In 2013 the number of road deaths in France stood at 3,268 – an all-time low. But since then the toll has been rising steadily once again and in 2017 there were nearly 3,500 – double the number of fatalities on roads in the UK (1,792).

    Cuts to speed limits
    The stand out move by the government and one that has long been mooted was to cut the speed limit on secondary two-lane highways to 80 kilometres per hour from 90 kilometres (55 miles) per hour.
    The government says the lower speed limit, which will come into force in July 2018, could save 350 to 400 lives a year.

    Mobile phones
    The French government also announced a crack down on the use of cellphones while driving, an infraction that currently results in a 135-euro fine ($160) and the loss of three points from the 12-point driver’s licence.

    From 2019 police will be able to suspend a licence for up to six months if the driver is found to have broken other laws while using a phone which could “endanger his own security or that of someone else.”

    Vehicle Ignition breathalyzers (Ignition Interlock)
    From now on anyone caught driving over the limit for a second time will be forced to fit their car with a vehicle ignition breathalyser or ignition interlock, which means they will have to take a test before they can start their car.

    If they are over the limit the engine simply won’t start. The rogue drivers will also be asked to visit a specialist psychologist.

    The technology was made compulsory in all coaches and buses in 2015.

    Speed controllers for racing drivers
    From 2021 the government will make it possible for speeding drivers who have had their licenses suspended after being caught going 40km/h over the speed limit to continue driving as long as they fit an automatic speed control device to their car, which would effectively cap their speeds according to the limit of each road.

    Car pound for serious offenses
    Beginning in 2019, serious offenders, such as those caught driving without a license, using a narcotic, or being caught well over the limit, will have their vehicle immediately impounded. Find it and more here.

    So start discussing, London
    Agree (7) | Disagree (0)

    You could equally appeal to the very large number who don’t contribute to take an interest Nick!

    As a regular contributor – and possibly I speak for some of the others – I am more than a little dismayed in the apparent lack of interest and apathy shown in what I hope, most would regard as a pretty important subject. As a plea to others who work in this field or have an informed interest in it, if you are genuinely concerned about safety on the road, please occasionally say something so we regulars won’t have to!

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (6) | Disagree (1)

    Don’t know whether to comment on this article or not 🙂 However there are people like myself who would not consider themselves as road safety professionals but deal with aspects of road safety and find the comments useful to gauge reactions to articles and where road safety is developing in this forum.

    Trevor Baird
    Agree (10) | Disagree (0)

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