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Risk, ‘psychic numbing’, and wellbeing take centre stage at Lloyd’s Register Foundation International Conference 2019

The Global Safety Podcast - Safer Roads

‘It shouldn’t take bravery to cross a street.' Olympic cycling goal medallist Chris Boardman speaks out during a Lloyd’s Register Foundation Global Safety Podcast launched to mark Global Road Safety Week.

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More than 3,700 people around the world die each day in road traffic collisions. Many, if not all of these deaths could have been avoided.

Why these accidents are still happening – and what’s needed to prevent them – is the topic of discussion in the latest Lloyd’s Register Foundation Global Safety Podcast, launched following the UN’s 6th Global Road Safety Week (17-23 May). This year, the campaign calls for 30 km/h (20 mph) speed limits to be the norm in cities, towns and villages worldwide.

Chris joins Natalie Draisin, North America Director and UN representative for the FIA Foundation, a charity which aims to ensure safe, clean and fair green mobility for all and Juliet Ado, Ghana Country Manager for Amend, an NGO which aims to reduce the incidents of road traffic injury across Africa, to explore the impact of accidents on individuals and families around the world.

Oscar Edmundo Diaz, Urban Transport and Planning, E-Mobility and road safety consultant and former special advisor to the Mayor of Bogota and James Pomeroy, Group Health and Safety and Environment and Security Director at Lloyd's Register also join the conversation to discuss interventions required to keep people safe.

“It shouldn’t take bravery to cross a street,” states Chris. “Cars may have become safer for the occupants, but not for people outside of the vehicle. That distinction is critical because walking and cycling, particularly in the UK, is a lot less safe than it used to be.”

The safety of children globally is a key focus of the conversation, with the panellists sharing real life stories of children seriously injured or killed on their way to school, as well as those who avoid going to school at all because of the risk of harm on the way there from cars and buses.

Natalie confirmed: “These sorts of crashes are the leading killer of kids and young people aged one to 25 in the US and five to 29 around the world. We need to create a safe systems approach so we can protect people and save lives.”

Showcasing the need to reduce speed in line with the Global Road Safety Week campaign, Juliet comments: “Studies have shown that when speeds are as low as 30 kilometers an hour, the chance of survival for a pedestrian who is actually hit is about 90 percent. But if you go up to 50 kilometers an hour, the chance of survival is under 20 percent.”

In some countries, the pandemic has only exacerbated the problem. While COVID-19 reduced the amount of traffic on the roads, the number of collisions actually increased.

James explains: “About 3000 more people over the past year have tragically being killed on US highways, up by about eight percent, while traffic has been down by 13 percent. There's a behavioural element to this – when there’s less traffic, people drive faster. And we also need to understand when we give out messages, rightly so, about not using public transportation, that that can have counter effects as well.”

Interventions discussed by the panellist include better infrastructure, speed reduction measures, legislation and enforcement.

Oscar says: “We need infrastructure that is safe for everyone. If you are going to build a bicycle path, it has to be good for it for an eight-year-old to ride on it. If it’s not safe for an eight-year-old, it’s not safe for anybody. In many low to middle income countries where people walk to get to their destination or to public transport, there are no pavements. We have to find ways to keep people safe.”

And a role for business is clearly evident as James says:

“Road safety is by far the biggest risk that many organisations face – and is also, in many respects, their biggest corporate social responsibility issue, although they may not recognise it.  Organisations need to rethink how they manage risk and consider their social responsibility. This may include how they plan and schedule employees’ working days, their rules for people who drive in terms of speed and safety measures and what training is provided for them.”

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Tom Heap Today's podcast subject matter reads a little bit like a sinister public service broadcast from the 70's or 80s', there's a killer that causes more deaths globally of children and young adults between the ages of five and 29 than anything else. In fact, 3,700 people a day, that's one every 24 seconds, die in a road traffic collision. Perhaps more shocking is that these deaths are preventable. We know how to prevent impacts that kill, but we're still failing to put into action preventative measures that could save 1.35 million lives around the world every year. Today, we're going to find out what it will take to bring that rate down. The United Nations is entering its second decade of action on road safety now, which rather suggests the first one didn't solve the problem. And the plan is to halve road deaths by 2030. And with a sixth United Nations Global Road Safety Week on May the 16th to the 23rd, now seems like a very good time to be discussing these subjects.

Welcome to the Global Safety Podcast, brought to you by Lloyd's Register Foundation. But it'll be far from all bad news today. We're going to take a journey around the world and see what critical lessons we can learn from countries and cities who are managing to reduce their road accident rates. Well, among our panelists today is a cycling gold medalist, Chris Boardman, a man who believes the humble bicycle can be used to solve some of the world's biggest problems, particularly when it comes to the saving of human life. So, Chris, I'm curious. Tell us, do you remember your your first bicycle on the first rides you had?

Chris Boardman Well, I certainly do. I think it was a blue rally Chipper with fat white tires,  and like probably most people on this call, the bicycle was my first form of freedom, a way to expand territory around my local areas. And that's a memory that I've had and certainly my kids haven't because the environment had changed so much in 20, 30 years that they didn't have a space that was safe enough to do that. And that's pretty much in a nutshell why I ended up in this line of work.

Tom Heap Well, that's fascinating. And that whole area of sort of liberty and freedom to travel is something that she will definitely come onto later. But I want to introduce the rest of my panel. We have Natalie Drasin, who is North America director and U.N. representative for the FIA Foundation, a charity which aims to ensure safe, clean and fair green mobility for all. Juliet Ado, Ghana country manager for Amend, an NGO which aims to reduce the incidence of road traffic injury across Africa. Oscar Edmondo Diaz, Urban Transport and Planning and Immobility and road safety consultant and former special advisor to the Mayor of Bogota and James Pomeroy, Group Health and Safety and Environment and Security Director at Lloyd's Register Foundation. Well, let's talk about the tough side of this, the impact of those collisions. And I'm talking about the impact on people. Natalie, am I right in thinking you come to this with a little bit of personal experience?

Natalie Draisin You are. When I was a college student, a friend of mine was hit and killed just crossing the road at three thirty in the afternoon by a driver who had 17 prior charges of Driving Under the Influence.  Crossing the street as a human right. She was a promising young woman just trying to get to her classes for the day. And so this took me to a place of anger because not just sadness, but truly anger that that Miriam was not just a statistic. She was representative of the fact that these sorts of crashes are the leading killer of kids, one to twenty five in our country. And as you mentioned, five to twenty nine around the world. I learned a really important public health lesson because of her tragedy. And that was that, you know, I went to my professor that day and I said, let's make sure that this never happens to anyone ever again. Let's build a pedestrian bridge from campus to the dorm so nobody has to cross the street. And my professor said, well, pedestrian bridges are really ugly, so the homeowner's association doesn't like them. And so with that professors help, I led a coalition to change the streets around campus and to get some some legislation to fight drunk driving in Maryland. And that is how I came to this.

Tom Heap That's worth bearing in mind, of course, that for every individual that sadly dies, a much greater number of seriously injured, which has its own impacts as well. Oska in. What are your feeling about the wider impacts of these tragedies?

Oscar Diaz Well, the impact is huge and there are several cases in which if one or one family member is injured, someone has to take care of that family member. And normally the person that takes care is the same one that brings income to the household. So this problem grows and grows, and then what you have is families with no income, then what you have, with cities that we are talking about,  probably two or three people die daily in crashes. So this the the this increase is potentially so the damage that those injuries do, it is huge.

Tom Heap Is there ever any sort of measurable impact on the nation's economy from these kind of things? Is that ever measurable?

Chris Boardman  I know that's in Greater Manchester, KSIs cost 800 million pounds a year.

Tom Heap That's "killed and seriously injured".

Chris Boardman  Of all of our road collisions. It cost us that every year. And that's just the basic costs. And as you just heard, that the pervasive and insidious effect is it makes headlines and it means it doesn't look and feel safe. And that's how people make their travel choices. So the the economic impact is much bigger than that headline of eight hundred million. And that's just one city region every single year.

Natalie Draisin  Chris is absolutely right. And we know that road traffic crashes cost countries about an average of three percent of their GDP. But we also have to think about what's harder to measure the kids who can't go to school because they're scared or they're injured and the years of productivity and life loss that come after that. So, for example, I was traveling in rural Senegal and I saw spray painted on the side of the school, something that said I go to school, but I'm so scared of road crashes. And those are the kids that are going to school. But I think about the kid that I spoke to in Jamaica who told me that he doesn't even go to school sometimes because he is so scared of being hit, because he had so many friends die on their way to school or be injured. And we have to think about the economic gain that could be had as well if our roads were safe. Now, you asked about the impact of serious injuries on families, you know, in Latin America. Here's an example. The school journey is the most important one that a child takes. Right? But every day, 50 kids in the region don't survive that trip. And here's an example, Nancy in Latin America is a single mother of two and her 17 year old Laura Gabriela was hit by a bus while she was walking to school. She's actually dragged under the rear tires as the bus ran over her two times. And to care for her daughter, Nancy had to quit her job. She was informally employed, so there was no leave or layoff compensation. And the household was relying on the salary of her son, her teenage son, to help the family survive and a couple other family members. So for many families, this is reality. When they can just start to see the ledge out of poverty, they get dragged right back down again by a tragedy like this.

Tom Heap Thank you.  James, I wanted to come to you. We're going to be moving on to causes in a minute. But I wanted to see if you had any reflections on what you've heard and also share with us a shared a stat that you passed on this morning about the what was happening in America with with COVID and road accident stats, which seem fairly extraordinary.

James Pomeroy Yeah, I think, Tom, when we kind of think about this, it's important to take that socio economic perspective that there is a pure commercial element to this. So for the many businesses, actually, this road safety is by far the biggest risk, actually, the biggest issue that many high risk organisations face is road safety. But it's also, in many respects, their biggest corporate social responsibility issue, that they may not necessarily recognise it. And it's also highly topical issue, not just from a sustainability perspective, but also as we think about COVID, so we've all undergone 14 months of lockdown.  Now that's really showing the system based approach and how we need to think about road safety as a system. So road safety "killed and seriously injured" figures across Europe generally are down that actually when we look at the U.S., the numbers are up quite significantly. About 3,000 more people over the past year have tragically being killed on U.S. highways. So the figures are up by about eight percent

Tom Heap Despite traffic being down?

James Pomeroy Yeah, the traffic has been down by 13 percent. So we what we need to do is we need to understand that there's a behavioural element to this, which is that, you know what, roads, when they're not congested with traffic, actually have a counterintuitive effect that they cause people to drive faster. But then we also need to understand when we give out messages, rightly so, about not using public transportation, that that can have counter effects. And we've seen those effects before. We saw them after 9/11.

Tom Heap Yeah. Chris, you want to come in?

Chris Boardman Yeah, it's just one point because I often get when working with politicians that road safety is actually OK. What that wraps up and I'm sure James is well aware, but I think it's worth making the point that it depends how you're traveling, who are those casualties? So cars have got safer and safer, for the occupants, but not for the people outside the car. Making that distinction is critical because walking and cycling, particularly in the UK, is getting a lot less safe. But the overall statistic you look at a single number makes it look okay.

Tom Heap Right, let's move on to the causes. We're going to hear from everybody on this. But I want to start off with with Juliet, if I may. Juliet, you work in several African countries on improving road safety. What are the issues? What are the big dangers?

Juliet Adu Big dangers, roadways that are not very forgiving. You have a road that is supposed to have see a walkway, but you're likely not to find continuity of walkways here or even a good network of it. So you find pedestrians having to walk on the road with the vehicles. And so there is that risk to them. You'd have cycles, cycle lanes, but they they're short and you don't really have a network of them. So even though you have you have a lot of pedestrians and cyclists in the African region, you don't have the facilities that would keep them safe on those roads. A lot of the roads are made for the vehicles moving vehicles from point A to point B, not really the people, most of whom are walking.

Tom Heap  Oscar, is it similar in in Latin America?

Oscar Diaz  I think Juliet is absolutely right. It starts with infrastructure. We need infrastructure that is safe for everyone. And we have we have we have a principle, which is if you are going to build a bicycle path, the bicycle path has to be good for an eight year old to ride on it. So if it is not safe for an eight year old, is not safe for anybody so that you have to build infrastructure with that mentality, you have to build the sidewalks with the mentality that the sidewalks are wide enough to have two wheelchairs going along at the same time, which is not what you find in many places. So I'm absolutely in agreement with what Juliet said about that.

And something that I wanted to mention before is that I'm very concerned about what's happening, what James was talking about, public transport declining because what is happening in Latin America, talking about those issues in Latin America is that more people are getting motorcycles. And that's in the case of Bogota. That's one of the agents that have more fatalities producing and the victims as well. So this is something that is very concerning about our future. With more people riding motorcycles  and less public transport.  A good public transportation system must be built in order to attract other people, and that makes cities safer.

Tom Heap So you're saying certainly as COVID hopefully declines and and vaccination spreads, that that things like being on a motorcycle or walking in front of a motorcycle is more dangerous to your health. More or more risky than than catching the virus.

Oscar Diaz Absolutely. And the problem is that this this idea that public transportation, it's unsafe in terms of COVID transmission - it's harming cities because there is something that is very difficult, which is that once a person moves from public transport to a motorcycle or a second hand car, it's almost impossible to get them back. You lose them for good. So it's the damage that that is causing for the future of our cities is very concerning.

Tom Heap A really interesting point. Chris Boardman, let's hear what the situation is in in countries like the UK and cities like Manchester in particular.

Chris Boardman To be able to cut through to be able to connect with people's emotions, one of the statements I put in the first document that we did was it shouldn't take bravery to cross the street. And it just makes people stop and think and realise that it does, and that drives your decisions. It decides how you choose what you do when you take the first step out of the house.

Tom Heap [00:24:35] Natalie, you've got a particular focus on children's safety. What is it that what are the challenges that children face specifically?

Natalie Draisin [00:24:43] I see this every day with my toddler, right. He's almost to he kind of goes wherever he wants to go. The other day, he stood next to a SUV, and he didn't even come up to the height of the wheel well. You could fit him and 61 other kids behind the SUV and the driver wouldn't see a single one of them. And this is emblematic of our american love affair with our cars. And it is very much time for a break up because this is what is is killing our children. WE have an overly motirised society and high speeds, and that's why we're suffering from an epidemic on wheels.  And the cure is  speed recution.  When we make it safe for our kids to walk and cycle, we make it safe for everybody.    Now, when we talk about speed reduction, we know that whenever we reduce speeds, we also reduce the likelihood that that everyone, and particularly our children will die from excessive speed. And this is why we focus on school areas, right. Children are where we need to start.

Tom Heap  I just wanted to give James a chance to come in here, because you've looked at some of this data around the world. You've looked at organizsations and how they respond to this. What do you think are the big causes here? 

James Pomeroy [00:27:09] think if we set aside the the the responsibility of municipalities and governments to set up a good road infrastructure and regulation, the the role of the organisation is critical. We all know that the influence of destraction when we're driving. So having very clear policies around distractions, distraction devices, plus also thinking about fatigue, we all know when we're tired, when we're driving. And a lot of that is about how we're planning and scheduling. So the organisational role is to rethink  how they manage risk and then how they think about their social responsibility, how they schedule people, what are their rules for people that drive, what training they provide for them, and then how they think about how they apply rules around seatbelts and speed.

So the corporation has a key role here. And to give you some kind of number for high risk organisations involved in owning gas and nuclear, you would naturally think their biggest risk relates to their processes. But somewhere about a quarter of all major incidents that these organisations face road safety with their employees. So that really kind of brings it home. If you're coming off a two week hitch off an oil rig and then you have a major accident on returning home and you impact pedestrians or vulnerable vehicle users, that really kind of impacts it. So I think the corporations have a huge role to play here. Some are doing some great work and we need more to do to get involved.

Tom Heap According to World Health Organization, I gather that 93 percent of the world's fatalities on the roads occur in low and middle income countries. But these countries only have half the world's vehicles, so their death and serious injury to vehicle ratio is far above that it is in rich countries. Why?

Oscar Diaz I think there are several reasons for that. I mean, one is definitely there is no legislation and there is no knowledge and no regulation for speeds and there is no enforcement. So that's why those numbers increase. But also, we have many people walking.  In Bogota, for example, the highest number of deaths come from pedestrians. So you've got to keep in mind that in low and middle income countries, many people have to walk long distances either to reach their destination or to reach the public transport system. So that puts them at risk if you don't have a safe infrastructure for pedestrians.  Many of these countries don't have sidewalks, not even not even 50 centimeters sidewalks.

Tom Heap But I'm guessing no one on this call would say the solution to that problem is less walking. Well, let's move on to the solutions side of this and look at what's being done around the world to try and reduce these figures and as far as possible, eliminate those those terrible tragedies. Juliet, let me start with you. What is being done? What are you kind of proud of or what have you seen around Africa that gives you some hope?

Juliet Adu  We focus a lot on children and their journeys to and from schools. And so we have this program that we do, which is like a school area assessment. It's a road safety assessment and improvement project.  We typically would go in, look at the school area. What's what's the existing situation regarding road safety? How safe are the kids when they are walking along, when they're crossing? What are the speeds of vehicles around these schools? And then we'll take the information we find and determine what infrastructure. And these are really simple basic infrastructure like speed humps. You would mark out the crossing points, you know, so that the children know where they should cross. You put in signs to let the drivers know that this is where children are crossing, so you need to behave differently. You would try and reduce the speeds of the vehicles in that area with speed calming measures. So you probably put in speed humps rumble strips, anything that would slow down the vehicles. You know, and these these these measures have been found to actually work and save the lives of the children.  Just talk to school authority authorities, the children themselves, the teachers, the head teachers. And you'll find that more often than not, within a matter of 12 months, you typically have up to three or three to five children actually being seriously injured as a result of a road crash. And sometimes you even find at least one child has died within that 12 month period.  So we pay a lot of attention to what's happening around schools and beyond the infrastructure, the minor infrastructure that we put in. We also educate the children. We give them both theory and then practical lessons that would teach them how to get around when they're walking, when they're crossing the road, what they should and shouldn't do to keep themselves safe. So as a matter of yes, they take responsibility for themselves, but they are also aware that someone behind the steering wheel may not notice them or give them the priority that they really should.

Tom Heap And what kind of reaction have you had to these measures, particularly the ones that are infrastructure that may require drivers to change their behavior?

Juliet Adu It's been really well accepted in the countries that we've done it. And we work with the local authorities, the local authorities, the municipal councils, and we're very happy with what we do. But then beyond beyond what we're able to do physically, we also make contributions to designs that are done on major roads. And in the last few years, we've had the opportunity to influence some of the road designs that have been done and are being funded by the World Bank, you know, to be implement, to be constructed. And in one case, we actually picked you find a typical example where they've done a road design, beautifully approved. Then where you find a school, you you barely find anything to keep the children safe in those areas. So we take those designs. We actually took those designs and we took a closer look at what's happening around the school, what can we do? And we put take these simple infrastructure measures, you know, and we typically would do a pre-assessment of the road safety situation, the speeds and all of that. And then we would go back after the infrastructure has been implemented, do a similar study and then do a comparison. And almost every single time we have a reduction in the speed of vehicles. And so by by extension, children's lives are saved. They don't have to get injured seriously or they don't even have to die.

Tom Heap [00:35:51] Tell me about the work you did, what you did and how it was received.

Oscar Diaz [00:35:58] OK, our goal was to reduce fatalities by 15 percent and when we left the mayor's office, it was 20 percent less. So it works. It works to set those those goals ahead. So we did several things. We recovered spaces that were illegally taken by cars. This sounds very minor, but there were just places that were taking us parking lots and where kids used to walk and they cannot walk because their cars coming in and out. So we recovered. So we recovered about seventeen thousand square meters.  And I love this once is biking to school so that are like biking busses, going to school from their homes with their teachers, one in from one behind. And they're involved also the parents.  They send a message that it's important to have the kids moving safely to school. And we did that as well by walking. So the same thing, the same concept, but for the small kids and they walk to school and that reduced also the incidents around the schools.

And these are things that we did is reducing speed. So we classified, like, for example, for schools 30 kilometer maximum for commercial areas, 40 kilometers, maximum speed for highways, in Bogota, it's 50 kilometers.  The interesting thing is that we did this in 10 corridors, including highways. We did that - we reduce the speed. Why so important and why did we choose that? Because in these tank corridors, there were happening between 35 to 40 percent of the fatalities of the entire city. So we had to tackle that right away. So we reduce the speed in this in these areas.

Tom Heap I was going to say, what were all these actions popular,

Oscar Diaz  Of course not. Because because I mean, the mentality of the people is like I need to get to work or I need to get to school. I need to get fast. And there is this concept that this this speed reductions are going to get you there late. They don't think that maybe they have to wake up earlier, but the beautiful thing about that is that it is not about the speed and this is the most difficult concept to communicate. It's not about the speed. It's about the flow of the traffic, because many times the speed from one light to be stuck in the next traffic light. And it doesn't make any sense. And we measure that. We measure the travel time and they increase like one minute at the most in some other cases they don't even increase. So it's that's that's something very difficult to communicate.

Tom Heap But isn't there another problem here, which I think is maybe a political problem with this across the world, is that only a very few people, too many, but only a very few people directly experience accidents and the impact of those, whereas everyone experiences what they might consider to be impositions on their their freedom to drive or their restrictions on where they can park and all these kind of things. And so that's a tricky problem, isn't it, when it comes to making these things popular?

Oscar Diaz Absolutely. And I'm going to give you another example of a beautiful program that we had as well.  We had bus drivers riding bicycles next to busses and we had a cyclist behind the wheel of a bus. The bus drivers freaked out when they were biking next to a bus, and they that was the only way to teach them how scary it is to be next to a huge bus, so they understood what was happening, but the other part that was as important is to have the actors behind the wheel because they cyclist realsed that there are blind spots. And this is this is something that I'm a cyclist as well, and I before we do this program, I didn't even think about that. I just thought that I was like that. I had, like, I don't know, protection that will take me safe because everybody saw me.  With this program, cyclists realised that there are points where they cannot be seen. So we put stickers on the buses showing cyclists to move if they are standing or they are staying too long by a blind spot.  And if you do that with car drivers, that helps a lot, too.

Tom HeapChris, let's talk about what's happening in Manchester, what you've been doing to try to make it safer and about the B network.

Chris Boardman  For walking, one of the standards that we've introduced is it must be usable and want to be used by a parent with a double bogey. There are things that local people on a macro level could understand and things that they value and give them a reason to change for things that they care about. And I think changing that language has been really important to bring everybody together and get them behind a single mission to roll out that connected network for the entire city region. And I think in the last 24 hours, Andy Burnham, the re-elected mayor of Greater Manchester, is announcing now we're going to suck busses and trams and trains into that same mission to make it really connect. And it really is gathering pace. But it's done that by talking to people about things that they care about.

Tom Heap What about the specific 20 mile an hour limits? I was I was driving in Scotland just last week and I noticed just about every center of every settlement up there now has a 20 mile an hour limit. That's something you'd support?

Chris Boardman [00:45:19] Absolutely. You know, you reduce speed, you reduce accidents, you improve safety. But we do know that stick a sign up and it's not having much of an effect. What we're missing is consequences. Now, right now, this is how it's all interconnected and consequences for driving are absolutely critical. While you can have 12 points and claim exceptional hardship and still continue to drive after having had three goes, then then there's not much in the way of consequences. We don't have a pilot, for example. So actually, I need to keep working to pay my mortgage, even though I've just endangered everybody's life. You're out of there and then everybody takes responsibility for what they do. So one of the factors, and it's not an easy one to solve is consequences for people who do speed. But changing the infrastructure, changing the road layout is a much more effective way to get that in urban areas.

Tom Heap [00:46:32] Natalie, you were going to be coming out here and I wanted to mention mentioned speed zone and now seems like a good time.

Natalie Draisin [00:46:40] We believe that the solution is that every road should have a minimum safety standard.  Again, aafety is our human right, but we do have to be realistic and we have to spend limited budgets wisely. And we have to recognise that investment in roads does pay off, though. So that's we're targeting high risk roads, comes into play. And our partner, IRAP, the International Road Assessment Program, says that over 50 percent of fatalities happen on less than 10 percent of our roads. And the World Health Organisation says that improving just 10 percent of the highest risk roads in every country over 20 years through footpaths and safety barriers and bike lanes and paved shoulders, many of the things we've been discussing today could prevent a whopping three point six million deaths and 40 million serious injuries. But imagine how much further we could go if, again, every single road had minimum safety standards.  And at the crux of all of that is speed management. And again, it's what I've been hearing throughout this conversation. If I could just add one quick thing on speed. This is why we're for you and Global Road Safety Week, we are advocating for the call to action to save lives through speed management. The idea is 20 mile an hour or 30 kilometers an hour, maximum speeds on all urban roads where vulnerable road users and vehicles mix. And this is emblematic of a global push towards low speeds, these lifesaving low speeds. So my ask to anybody listening is if you're a decision maker and you have the power to implement this this low speed initiative, please do that so that we can save lives because we know it works. We've talked about it throughout this this conversation. And if you're anybody else, go to the U.N. Global Road Safety Week website and download these materials to ask your decision makers to implement these low speeds.

Oscar Diaz You have to keep in mind that developing countries are still growing and the cities are still being built. So one important thing is that you have regulations for new roads to be built safe. This is very important. We left that for new roads. You have to have a wide sidewalk, a wide bicycle infrastructure that is protected from cars. So this is also important. And lastly, cameras to enforce a speed reduction.

Tom Heap Two very good points, it's been effective here, not least with me, yes, Juliet, do come in.

Juliet Adu Yes, I just wanted to add that a lot of the countries that we work in don't have legislation. And even where they do have them, there is always the issue of enforcement implementation and then enforcement. So very often, like in Ghana, for instance, we do have an existing law that says you need to keep speeds as low as 30 kilometers an hour in these areas, and that's 20 miles per hour. And unfortunately, for a very long time, we don't see any of such signs around. No, nothing like 30 kilometer speed limits. But then when a man started working in Ghana, we started installing some of these signs. So just creating the awareness that, look, in this area, you need to keep speeds low and stay there. Studies have shown that when speeds are as low as 30 kilometers an hour, the chance of survival for a pedestrian who is actually hit, it's about 90 percent. But if you go up to about 50 kilometers an hour, the chances of survival for them is under 20 percent. So clearly, you really need to keep these speeds as low as that.  We've managed to get some countries and city officials to and the politicians that legislation legislators to actually, what's the word, enact laws that require speeds to be kept that low at 30 kilometers an hour. A typical example is in Zambia and then that that's become a national legislation. But then also in Namibia and Maputo, we've been able to do them at city level around some schools.

Tom Heap So, James, I wanted to ask something about the manufacturers here, whether they could be doing a little bit more to to help in this space. The vehicles know what speed I should be doing. They very often flash up the speed in that area. I mean, we are reaching a point on me where the manufacturers almost could enforce the speed on us, couldn't they?

James Pomeroy Yeah, the car manufacturers have a critical role to play. In the in the 60s, the car manufacturers came to a really pivotal conclusion, and that is that they couldn't stop accidents because it was human error. And we know that human error, we are all fallible to it. So what they did is they designed vehicles to crash and to crumple around protecting the driver and the occupants. We need the same level of transformative approach to think about vulnerable road users, because if we think about cars, you know, they're beautifully designed things, but they are a thing of beauty, not necessarily a thing of safety to think about protecting vulnerable road users. If you think about a vehicle you can pick up now, it's got an inbuilt distraction device often in the front of the vehicle. It's got a media system that actually entices you and gets you to think about actually taking your eyes off the road. There are many safety features that could be built into cars. And let me give you one simple example. So the Volvo in the in the late 60s came up with the seatbelt. It was a wonderful invention of probably the biggest safety invention that saved millions of lives around the world. And what they realised is they struck gold and found something really pivotal and they decided to give away the trademark and the IP for that to other manufacturers. And since then, you have an idea of a design that is fundamentally saved the occupants of vehicles around the world. What we need is some different thinking about how to protect vulnerable road users, where we fundamentally rethink the problem, because I don't think we're there yet.

Chris Boardman At the risk of. Well, it is, but I am being flippant on it, and it does sound rather melodramatic, but it's a point that needs making that the safest car in the world would have a steel spike right in the middle of the steering wheel. And we all laugh. But I bet you every one of us here go, yeah, that's true. So what are the consequences of making a car safer when you crash? It's you know, these are not difficult dots to join. Now, I'm really interested in the development of driverless cars because I don't think anybody's thought through the full consequences of that. What happens when you come across a group of cyclists and and you want to get round them and you're annoyed at having to wait? So you've either got to override the car, but the car isn't going to do it because it's just looked at it and said safe, not safe. And it stays there. And what are the consequences of that? So the potential for road safety is really high, but I think it's going to have a very, very difficult journey to get to that point. If ever it does, I think it will be superseded by public transport. But if ever it does, because it's going to take away something, people feel they've lost something. And I think there's going to be be a fight for that control. 

Tom Heap Yeah, what do you think about this idea that we could be more controlled, I mean, the technology exists now to sort of control our speed from the outside. Do you think that will ever happen or do you think once again the sort of the attack on liberty would be too great?

Chris Boardman I think it will be. And how it will be packaged as an attack on liberties vut what it actually is, is it's actually being enabling people to drive. It's giving them convenience. But the cost of that is you take away your liberty to be able to break the law, because that's what an autonomous vehicle will be compelled to do. So I can only see that improving safety. And even when I've looked at the the the potential for error and people are flagging up circumstances where an autonomous vehicle can make a mistake, even that if you look at that in the round of how many accidents would it prevent for those freak accident that do happen, you're still likely to be much better off.

Tom Heap Well, to put our discussions into context, here's Etienne Krug.  He's Director of the Department for Injusry Prevention, from the World Health Organisation.  And , as we're currently in the UN safety week, here's what he thinks should be done, and I'm afraid it's not great news for boy or girl racers.


If you add up all the deaths on the road, it's more than 50 million since the creation of the car.  This more deaths than World War One, or it's more deaths than the Spanish Flu and this trend has been going upwards for more than a century.  And now in the last few years we've seen a plateau.  So, despite the fact that the number of cars and drivers keeps going up, we want to go down.  And that's the objective of the next decade, to see a 50 per cent decrease over the next ten years, in the number of deaths.  We have developed a transportation system that is very much based on  the car.  We are giving priority to car based transportation and neglecting healthier, greener and more active modes of transportation like cycling, walking and public transport.  And I think it is time to give back the streets to the people.  We need to make sure politicians, first of all are aware of how huge this issue is in terms of the consequences on deaths, on injuries, on families, but also the economic costs which are huge.  It has been estimated, depending on the countries, to be between two and five per cent of GDP.  Once we start saving lives and we communicate about lives saved, it's a political win.  This week is the United Nations' Road Safety Week.  It's the sixth time we've celebrated UN Road Safety Week, and we have called it a law of 30 campaign, which is promoting a 30 kilometre speed limit in urban centres where we see a big mix of traffic, and we've seen more and more cities adopt that speed limit in parts of London, Europe; Spanish cities are starting to do it as well, and this is going to have a huge impact.   No death is justified for our transportation, we should be able to move around in full safety.

Tom Heap Right. So we're coming to the end of our time, and I'm sure you've all got other things to do. Let me let me just quickly whip round. I'll give you time to prepare. I'm going to ask you for for one thing that might help the road safety situation in in your country, let's say. So let me start with James.

James Pomeroy I think organisations need to be held accountable for road safety issues in terms of just the way they are in terms of safety issues inside their facilities and factories. I think if we get that transformative approach, then we will get a change. We're not there by a long, long way.

Tom Heap Juliet, what would be one thing you'd like to see where you are that would help safety.

Juliet Adu [00:58:45] I really would love to see the politicians and the lawmakers take the the decision that needs to be taken to change the narrative about road safety, road crashes in this country. In Ghana and really across Africa, one of the media houses did a documentary highlighting the crashes, and they did a comparison between the number of people who had actually been killed in road crashes within the first three months of this year, comparing that with the number of people who had died from COVID-19 in the last year. And you had more people dying in three months than had died from road crashes than had died from COVID-19.  I'm told that the politicians are actually taking this seriously. And there's been talk about doing something different, actually dealing with the situation. So I really would like to see some positive action come out of all the talk.

Tom Heap Thank you. A change in mindset from politicians, Oscar.

Oscar Diaz  Well, I want to talk more about the developing country world. Tom, you mentioned that motorisation rates in the developing world are low, so that's a huge opportunity for cities to build infrastructure. That is good for public transportation and for biking and for pedestrian, so less those may be the priorities, infrastructure that encourages the use of public transportation, bicycles and walking safe.

Tom Heap Chris Pullman and something I just wanted to give you a chance to mention as well, is that the very start we mentioned the danger of sort of. Not exaggerating. That would be the wrong phrase. We mentioned the danger of talking that when you talk about safety, you end up scaring people into their cars and presumably that's something we need to avoid.

Chris Boardman Yeah, I'm going to cheat with my closer, actually, because I'm going to have two things. So on a governmental level, have a street hierarchy and then legislate and build accordingly. And that's why that's why Denmark and Holland, that's why it works.

Tom Heap They're just in very simple terms. Explain what a street hierarchy. So who would be talking about

Chris Boardman People walking, people riding bikes, public transport deliveries, private motor vehicles. And it's happened elsewhere and it works. So, you know, that's what you need to do, have a hierarchy and build and legislate accordingly for an individual consequences for causing danger to others and consequences. And people would regulate themselves or they'll be off the road.

Tom Heap Let's have a closing thought from you, Natalie, as well.

Natalie Draisin The one thing that I would love for us all to do is to learn from the pandemic. I think that during the pandemic, we've seen the political will and the funding and the public desire for people to get outside, because that is how we avoid getting covid and that's how we keep our mental health and our physical health. And if we make it safe, we can make sure that we're also decreasing our road traffic injury and fatality rate. New York City reduced traffic on 67 miles of streets and people loved them. And transportation alternatives had a poll that showed that 63 percent of New Yorkers supported expanding that. So they recently passed a bill to not only make those streets permanent, but also expand the programme. Seattle made 20 miles of streets car free. Paris gave thirty one miles of roadway to cyclists and six in 10 users of those pop up cycle lanes had never even cycled before, so they made those permanent. Let's learn from the pandemic. Let's make these temporary changes permanent, and let's put those children at the heart of those changes so that they have a future where they walk and cycle much more than they do today.

Tom Heap Well, thank you very much indeed to everybody, I found it fascinating, and I hope in the end that these discussions and the result of people listening to them could be that our streets would become safer for all road users. And a really interesting point particularly made, I thought, by it, by Oscar and Juliet, that while countries are developing, now's the time to get the right infrastructure and the right attitudes in place, the right behaviors in place. For those of us that are lucky enough to live in more wealthy countries, we do have the legislative power and arguably the money to put this stuff right as well. So thank you very much indeed. To Chris Boardman MBE, Natalie Draisin, Juliet Adu, Oscar Edmundo Diaz and James Pomeroy. And that's it from the Lloyd's Register Foundation podcast.

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