Your six-step guide to setting up a road safety group.
Step one - Get together
Form a committee of people who want to improve road safety. Appoint a chairperson. Recruit people with relevant skills, resources, interests and spare time. Keep your committee small - any bigger than eight and you may have trouble coordinating meetings.
Step two - Give yourself a name
Create a name for your group (e.g. the name of your area or street followed by 'Road Safety Campaign'). Produce a logo and letterhead, with the name, phone number and email address of your main contact. A local graphic designer might be willing to create a logo for free - a black and white logo may be best as it can be photocopied. A local business may be able to print or photocopy your letterhead for free.
Step three - Involve relevant officials
It's important to involve officials who are already working for road safety in your area with your campaign.
- your local road safety officer, responsible for educating local people about road safety (often employed by local government);
- your local safety engineer, responsible for reviewing and implementing safety measures on roads, e.g. crossing places;
- local roads policing officers, responsible for enforcing traffic laws;
- local councillors and other key members of local government;
- your local District Health Board; and
- your local politician.
Step four - Identify road safety concerns
It is important to know the facts. Ask officials for information about the extent of deaths and injuries in your community, and any known causes. Carry out surveys on the volume and speed of traffic on your roads. You don't need a radar gun to monitor speeds of traffic (although police may be able to help with a speed survey. Also some local council road safety officers have radar guns for doing speed surveys); you can do it using two fixed points and a stop watch. Make sure you stand somewhere safe.
Identify the road safety concerns that your group thinks are important. Try to be open-minded. Your concerns may change as you talk to more people. It's also important to keep your group focused on the issues that are most critical. Don't get side-tracked by something that's not life-saving.
To help identify concerns, carry out a survey of local people door-to-door or at a local event such as a school fair. Share a draft of your survey with officials and road safety professionals for comments; they could suggest useful amendments or additional questions for the finished version.
Analyse responses to your survey and reconsider your community's road safety concerns based on these responses. Write a short report on the main concerns, which suggests best-practice solutions.
Step five - Organise a public meeting
Organise a public meeting for local people and present your report to them. Invite officials to speak at this meeting and leave plenty of time for discussion afterwards too.
At the meeting, your chairperson should present a summary of the group's main concerns and suggested potential solutions. These may include educational initiatives to persuade local people to take more care on roads; or a request that officials implement a road safety measure, such as a road sign, lower speed limit or new crossing place. Everyone could then vote on whether they agree that these are the concerns, and that the proposed solutions meet the needs of the community.
Find a free venue for your meeting, such as a school hall. Give enough notice (at least two weeks) and hold it at a reasonable time (e.g. 7pm on a week day). Advertise the meeting through shop windows, leaflet drops or in a local paper. Make sure the meeting is non-confrontational and fair, so everyone has a chance to speak and share their opinion.
Step six - Get results
It may be possible for your group to undertake some road safety initiatives straightaway, particularly initiatives that educate local people about how to take more care on roads. Safety measures that must be implemented by the relevant officials (e.g. a new crossing or a lower speed limit) will require their consideration and approval. If approval isn't forthcoming, keep going. Achieving safe roads can take time and continued pressure.
Review through further research, the success (or failure!) of any achieved road safety initiatives. For example, have traffic speeds gone down following the introduction of more speed limit signs, or not? This information can help prove the value of your group's work. It can also help your group decide whether anything else needs to be done.