Road accidents are a major blight on the world’s highways – but some companies are attempting to stem the tide. David Arminas reports on the annual Prince Michael International Road Safety Awards.
India’s Institute of Road Traffic Education (IRTE) was among the international winners at the annual Prince Michael International Road Safety Awards in London.
IRTE picked up the Premier Award for its road injury prevention programme and for being a key partner in the Safer Cars for India project established by Global NCAP, an independent certification body that evaluates the safety of vehicles.
Part of IRTE’s strategy has been the setting up of what is believed to be Asia’s first Masters of Science in Traffic Management.
For many years, IRTE’s College of Traffic Management has been educating and offering courses to police officials and others to help them manage and design traffic and transportation management systems. IRTE president Rohit Baluja, who received the award in London late last year, said the institute has worked with educationalists, doctors, journalists, engineers, ex-servicemen, architects, automobile experts and members of the police to improve road safety in India.
The two-year Masters of Science in Traffic Management, which started last August with 30 students, was given approval by the government of Haryana – a state that surrounds the capital New Delhi – and the Maharshi Dayanand University in Rohtak, within Haryana.
Baluja said one of the aims of the degree course is to encourage other institutes across South East Asia to sponsor similar masters programmes.
Other winners of Prince Michael International Road Safety Awards came from Kyrgyzstan, Australia, Myanmar and Malaysia. Organisations included the UK’s AA (Automobile Association), French car maker Renault, global tyre manufacturer Goodyear and Australia’s Queensland Police.
In the UK, Scotland TranServ – a Balfour Beatty and Mouchel maintenance joint venture – picked up an award for innovative road safety solutions. TranServ manages and maintains more than 600km of main roads and motorways across south-west Scotland.
TranServ’s award was for an initiative implemented in conjunction with Clearview Intelligence along Scotland’s major A75 road. Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) were involved in more than half of all accidents between 2006 and 2015.
Research showed KSI figures – killed or seriously injured – for the A75 were one-and-a-half times higher than the average for trunk roads in southwest Scotland. Despite cars accounting for between eight and nine times more than the volume of HGVs, accidents involving HGVs were six times the national average for this type of road.
A vehicle-activated sign system was introduced to tackle the problem, using Clearview’s vehicle count and classify device. By identifying the speed and class of vehicle, the different national speed limit warnings could be shown to the passing vehicle via VAS (vehicle activated signs) to drivers travelling above the safe speed for the road.
Since its installation in 2015, accidents involving HGVs have fallen 31% while HGV speed has dropped by 5%. Overall vehicle speed has come down by 12.5%.
Groupe Renault was recognised for its Your Ideas, Your Initiatives global education programme on road safety and sustainable mobility for 12-17 year olds. It was launched in 2011 as an international challenge promoted in schools on four continents. Over 400 projects have been carried out by more than 12,500 students.
Picking up the Safer Road Users accolade for 2018 was ProjectEDWARD, an initiative run by the European traffic police network TISPOL. The aim is to achieve a European Day Without A Road Death.
The judges said TISPOL’s project was recognised for its high-profile, evidence-based work through targeted enforcement, media and public relations for one day each year. In 2018, 31 countries participated. Also, an information road trip covering 3,000km across 10 European countries helped to highlight the campaign. Social media, too, reached in excess of 38 million people.
Among winners in the Road Safety Projects category was the Public Association Road Safety (PARS) organisation in Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic. In a country with over 10,000 non-government organisations, PARS is the first and only one solely for road safety. Set up in 2012 with a grant from the UK charity EASST, it has implemented 15 major projects ranging from public education to children’s programmes. According to the judges, it retains a high profile with many successes confirming its notable public acceptance.
Of major significance is PARS’s Pedestrian Safety campaign in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. This has been effective in influencing the development of the government’s Smart City Strategy to include better provision for vulnerable road users in the city.
In the Road Safety Education category, a winner was a project by the Road Safety Department of Malaysia and the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS).
MIROS was established in 2007 as an agency under Malaysia’s transport ministry. It is principally engaged in research but also works closely with local and international government agencies and private bodies to improve road safety. MIROS’s research and evidence-based intervention programmes provide the basis for formulation of government strategies, legislation, policies and enforcement measures at local and national level.
A change in Malaysia’s National School Curriculum enabled road safety education modules to become mandatory for primary schools. Teachers, road safety experts, educational psychologists and traffic enforcement teams contributed to development of the modules with support from MIROS. Modules for older children, in secondary schools, are in development.
In 2014, transport ministers from ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) appointed MIROS as the ASEAN Road Safety Centre. Its aims are to promote and provide knowledge on road safety issues among ASEAN member states which include road traffic laws and regulations, data management, standards development and road safety awareness and education.
Recently in Malaysia, a 22-year-old ambulance driver was killed and his passenger injured when he reportedly lost control of the vehicle and it crashed into a guardrail – following an earlier, similar fatal accident. MIROS is in the forefront of groups working with the government to improve ambulance driver education and to set higher safety standards for guardrails.
In Australia, the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS-Q) was awarded for its Higher Degree Research (HDR) education programme. The programme leads to PhD and Masters degrees through research by national and international students. Between 2013-2017 alone, 54 domestic students and 26 international HDR students were involved in the programme. CARRS-Q was established in 1996 as a joint venture between the Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC) and the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). The centre, based within the university’s Faculty of Health, addresses the human, economic and social costs resulting from road crashes. It investigates people’s behaviour with the aim of devising countermeasures.
CARRS-Q has become known for its Advanced Driving Simulator. It uses SCANeR studio software with eight computers, projectors and a six-degree of freedom (6DOF) motion platform that can move and twist. When seated in the simulator vehicle, the driver and passengers are immersed in a virtual environment that includes a 180-degree front field of view, simulated rear-view mirror images, surround-sound for engine and environment noise as well as a real-car cabin and simulated vehicle motion.
Judges rewarded non-government organisation RoadSafetyUAE for its safety initiatives, including workshops in the Saudi Arabian cities of Riyadh and Jeddah for female drivers. It led another campaign to get the United Arab Emirates to enact what is called the holistic seatbelt law. On 1 July 2017 it became the law to buckle up, including children. However, RoadSafetyUAE maintained its campaign, noting that many people ignore the law. Every year, police in Dubai and Abu Dhabi fine tens of thousands of drivers who do not buckle up, despite fines of up to US$110 and several demerit points on an offender’s licence. A study by Abu Dhabi Police in October 2017 showed that 60% of traffic fatalities were due to non-wearing of seat belts.