Not Enough Reduction In Road Casualties

When we compare the 2,726 road deaths recorded in 2008 with the 1,770 deaths in 2018 we may wish to congratulate ourselves for a job well done. However, we should be challenging ourselves for missed opportunities to have reduced the number of road causalities more dramatically.

The reality is that from 2012 to 2018 the number of road casualties has nearly remained static. This stark point is well illustrated when you look at the flat line data shown on the graph produced in Reported road casualties in Great Britain: quarterly provisional estimates year ending June 2018

So rather than congratulating ourselves we should be asking what has gone wrong? Why did 1,770 road users lose their life’s in 2018?

How many of the reductions since 2012 are down to better medical care. For example, paramedics and advances in medicine? How much of the reductions are due to better vehicle design? For example, vehicle technology including ABS braking, traction control, air bags to the latest autonomous active braking systems, lane departure warnings and so on. How many of the reductions are a product of better road engineering? For example, safer road layouts, better lighting, use of collapsible road signs and so on.

The one constant variable is the driver. Whilst we may be surviving accidents which would have killed us in 2012 or even walking away without injury due to safer vehicles, we are still having accidents. I wonder how many accidents each year are not being reported because the road user walked away without serious injury?  

Whilst we should be working towards zero road casualties, the reality is we will never reach zero because as humans we sometimes make rash decisions, sometimes act irrationally or out of character. We are influenced by our personality and the situations we find ourselves in at a point of time – calm, rational, patient, polite, thinking, caring v anger, hostility, road rage, risk taking, showing off, pressures of life we find difficult or cannot cope with. We can be impulsive and make a decision at one point in time we would not have made five minutes before or after. We are all unique, see and deal with risk differently. All of our actions have consequences which can be good or bad. As humans we are not consistent in what we think and do.

Our actions can be influenced by a situation at any one point in time, we can act out of character and are products of our personality types.
— Alistair Stuart

So what can we do better which will reduce road causalities? How about focusing more on the driver and how, as individuals, your drivers can be positively influenced and managed to drive safely?

You can have all the road safety polices in the world to promote safe driving and reduce risk. However, without management action to support these polices they are worthless because they are only words.

Take action -  make sure your drivers know the rules and the consequences for not following them

Be proactive – lead by example. Be approachable and supportive. Make sure your drivers have the skills they need to stay safe. Know what is happening and manage your drivers.

Accountability – make sure everyone knows what is expected of them. Hold staff to account. Ask why has a company vehicle been damaged? Ask why has a driver, driving on your company business, received a speeding ticket?            `

Best practice – promote what works. Ask your teams for ideas and safer ways of working. Encourage innovation for safety. Celebrate positive outcomes and good work.

Learn from mistakes and near misses – what went wrong and what can be done to prevent similar incidents.

If 25% of road casualties involve at work drivers then what can you do to help to reduce this number?

Do you already know which drivers are causing you the highest risk? If not why not? If you already have this information, how are you using it to effectively manage and reduce risk? Information is useless unless you use it and take action.

Which drivers have the most speeding tickets? Why? Was it a one off or a pattern of behaviour? Have you heard comments from staff about the standard of co-workers driving which concern you and which you should be acting on? Are you putting unreasonable pressure on your drivers which results in them having to speed to meet delivery times? What are you going to do?

Which drivers have the most ‘little knocks’ in their vehicle. The occasional bollard dent or kerb strike? What are you doing about this? Are they just unlucky or is it a pattern? Bad luck or near miss with a learning opportunity to prevent the same type of incidents or a more serious life changing event?

  •  Know who your highest risk drivers are and take positive action to support and effectively manage them.

  • Act upon your concerns. Challenge, drive accountability and take action.

  • Reward good practice and recognise safe working practices and culture.