Kinetic energy isn’t a phrase that springs readily to most people’s lips.
But this basic rule of physics is the underlying reason for thousands of road deaths and serious injuries in Europe every year. You don’t have to be a physicist to appreciate what happens when a fragile human body and a speeding vehicle are involved in a road crash.
Put simply, speed kills.
That is why I’m delighted to see that speed reduction is at the core of this year’s United Nation’s Global Road Safety Week.
Research shows that in many situations even a 5% reduction in average speed can achieve a 30% reduction in the number of fatal traffic crashes. It’s hard to think of a low cost intervention that could deliver such a potentially huge reduction in human suffering and economic loss across Europe.
Successful speed management techniques depend on a confluence of safe behaviour, safe vehicles and safe road infrastructure. EuroRAP and its members have played a pivotal role in promoting safer road infrastructure across Europe which reduces the risk for all road users. Speed reduction is integral to so many of our schemes.
Until a couple of years ago, the steady decline in road deaths across Europe suggested that the battle against unnecessary European road deaths was slowly being won. In 2015, though, that decline slowed and, in some countries, has been slightly reversed.
How do we stop this trend? Is it possible that we have picked most of the ‘low hanging fruit’ of road traffic safety and that future gains will be proportionately harder?
If we are to get back on track for our goal of halving European road deaths and serious injuries by 2020, we, as road safety professionals, need to reach boldly out into society and build a powerful consensus for safer roads. Think of the health benefits that the anti-smoking campaign has brought across Europe – we need the campaign for safer roads to have that passion and urgency too!
SaveLives: #SlowDown is a golden opportunity for us to send an unequivocal message that our roads can and must be made safer, because safer roads mean saved lives.
I urge all EuroRAP members to support Global Road Safety Week in every way they can. Get your colleagues, family and children behind the campaign too!
Most importantly, make your own personal pledge to #SlowDown every day.
Let’s make Global Road Safety Week 2017 the week when things really began to change.