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12 December 2018 | By Andy Barratt Community

Road safety is our shared responsibility

Ford of Britain's Andy Barratt calls on businesses to get involved to make our transport network as safe as possible

Half of the world’s population live in cities, and the UN forecasts that this will grow to 66 percent by 2050. With more people, and more vehicles on the road, we need better transport infrastructure. But we also need to ask what UK businesses can do to promote better knowledge around road safety.

Just last month, the Department for Transport proposed a number of amendments to the Highway Code to protect vulnerable road users. They also announced the appointment of a new cycling and walking champion. These steps will help to ensure new policies meet the needs of road users across the UK. Over the summer, the Mayor's transport strategy set out the ambitious ‘Vision Zero’ goal for the capital: that by 2041, all deaths and serious injuries should be eliminated from London’s transport network. These are commendable aims, but they will require collaboration between a variety of stakeholders to be achieved.

Whether it’s attempting to shave a few minutes off a commute by trying to outpace the flow of traffic, texting while walking or simply paying little attention to our surroundings, we have all encountered frustrating, dangerous, and in some cases, fatal situations caused by the unpredictable actions of other road users. Our road network includes pedestrians, motorists and cyclists, van and lorry drivers who all have an obligation to not only share the road, but understand the experiences of other road users to make our transport network as safe as possible.

Training, education and proper planning

Recent research from Brake, the road safety charity, found that one in four organisations (27 percent) prioritise meeting delivery targets over road safety. Fewer than four in ten (37 percent) respondents believed that government policy makers are doing enough to protect vulnerable road users. So there is scope for a number of stakeholders to make positive changes to road safety within the UK.

Businesses have a duty of care to their employees to keep them up-to-date with best practices and changes in regulations. This is especially true for companies with large fleets of delivery drivers out on the road – such as those in the retail or manufacturing sectors. It’s essential for these businesses to invest in regular training for their employees, who are often in large goods vehicles (LGVs) and under pressure to meet tight deadlines.

Businesses, government and charities need to work together to rethink transportation and listen to the first-hand experiences of road users. How people move around cities provides a wealth of data which can help us to define the current challenges and find the right solutions. Investment into new technology needs to take into consideration the variable characteristics of different areas and regions around the UK – transport solutions that are widely accessible and ease congestion, all while limiting conflict, should be a priority for major investment over the coming years.

Collaboration between transport officials and urban planning departments should be informed by the real-life experience of road users and ultimately drive deeper engagement from local communities around public policy. Through targeted education programmes, we must enhance the need for equal respect and responsibility on our roads, continuing into later life as an essential part of on-the-job training.

In many ways, transport networks define urban as well as rural areas. They connect our communities, open up opportunities and create the conditions for local economies to flourish. The safe integration of different modes of transportation is therefore vital to how we make our roads safer and easier for everyone, now and in the future.

All of us, whether we are travelling around our streets, managing the transport network or manufacturing vehicles, have a responsibility to address this issue and evaluate what isn’t working.

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