Katy Harrison MCIT, Technical Advisor, Safer Roads People Team (Safety, Engineering and Standards) Highways England


Originally from North Wales, Katy completed a degree in politics at York University in 2009. After University, she worked for a brief time in the office of Lesley Griffiths, member of the Welsh Assembly for Wrexham.

Following the 2010 election, Katy began working as a senior caseworker for Susan Elan Jones, MP for Clwyd South. In 2012 she was promoted to senior researcher for Ms Jones and took on the secondary role of office manager for both her constituency and Westminster offices.

Katy developed a love of transport safety policy while working directly on a campaign for which Ms Jones was named 2015 Parliamentarian of the Year by the national road safety charity Brake.

For the 2015 General Election, she acted as the parliamentary agent for the Clwyd South Constituency Labour Party.

In March 2016, Katy was appointed policy officer at PACTS and has subsequently been promoted to senior policy & research officer, with responsibility for a wide range of tasks.

She undertook research into the little-considered issue of road-related suicide in the UK, resulting in the report ‘Suicide on UK Roads: Lifting the Lid”, published in October 2017.

In 2018, Katy completed a secondment to the Department for Transport’s Road User Licensing, Insurance and Safety Team, working in the area of Autonomous Vehicle Technology within the Enforcement Legislation Policy team.

Following that secondment, Katy moved to the Safer Roads People Team within the Safety, Engineering and Standards Directorate at Highways England. Katy is now a Technical Advisor within the Safer Roads Team.

Presentation: Suicide on UK Roads

In 2017, PACTS estimated that there are likely to be around 50 deaths each year by suicide on UK roads. The ‘Suicide on UK Roads: Lifting the Lid’ report provided evidence that this is likely to be an underestimate of the true number. The number of attempts is known to be much higher.

There is no official record of the number of suicides and attempted suicides taking place on roads in the UK every year and no central database for recording this information. The issue is largely under-research and data and awareness has been generally poor.

However, engagement is growing and since the publication of Katy’s report in 2017, the issue has moved on. In the past year, the highways community has started to develop an approach to road suicide. This presentation discusses what is being done in the roads community (particularly within Highways England) and more widely to take action on this important issue.

Every incident of suicide on UK roads impacts on other road users and potentially puts the lives of other road users at risk. Behind every statistic is an individual and behind many of these deaths there is likely to be a family and a community devastated by their loss. There is much to be done to approach this issue for the highways industry.